RICHMOND — Loudoun County outside hitter Maggie Phillips often tells her teammates to “fake it until you make it” before matches if they are feeling nervous. In her 10th game at VCU’s Siegel Center between basketball and volleyball state tournament contests during her four-year career, Phillips doesn’t lack for confidence, and if she makes a bad play, she manages to follow it with a great one.
In Thursday’s 25-13, 25-18, 25-11 Virginia 4A semifinal sweep of Grafton, Phillips didn’t lead the No. 1 Raiders in any statistical category, but her presence was still felt on the familiar floor.
Loudoun County will face Jamestown (27-1) on Saturday at 5 p.m. in the state final as the Raiders look to claim their sixth state championship in seven seasons. The Eagles (18-6) swept James River in Thursday’s second semfinal.
Late in the third set with the match well in hand, a Clippers kill attempt looked to be heading out of bounds on the left sideline. But Phillips chased it down and, with her shoes edging the white tape, passed it back into play.
“I want to work hard for my teammates because they work hard for me,” Phillips said. “Especially the back row, who doesn’t get much credit. They keep our rallies going. Also there was a great block up on me the entire game.”
The Raiders (30-0) went elsewhere for kills and had eight different girls put a ball down. Sophomore Taylor Borupposted a team-high nine kills.
Loudoun County’s scouting report said Grafton senior Kendall Mahony (10 kills) was the Clippers’ big hitter, and the Raiders’ lengthy front line followed her everywhere on the floor.
“Jane Feddersen was up with her the whole time,” Phillips said. “She was talking to the other blockers saying where she was hitting the ball. She was learning and not repeating mistakes.”
Feddersen had a team-high five assists on blocks. Kelsey Slack led the team with 12 digs, and Phillips posted eight.
Loudoun County has won 48 straight matches and is now one game away from duplicating its unbeaten run to the 2007 state title — the first of what has since become a nearly annual occurrence.
Broad Run senior Conference 14 Libero and Player of the Year Taylor Austin didn’t make it off the court before the tears began to fall. Austin led the Spartans to their first state semifinal appearance since the late 1990s and was even able to win a set in Richmond.
But the Spartans eventually lost in four sets to an experienced Atlee team, 25-23, 19-25, 19-25, 20-25. The Raiders (31-2) will face No. 3 Stone Bridge in Saturday’s Virginia 5A state final at 7 p.m. — a rematch of last season’s AAA state semifinal, won by Atlee in five sets.
Senior Rachel Hendricks was outstanding up front for Broad Run, posting a game-high 18 kills, but Atlee’s experience proved to be too much. Austin had a team-high 20 digs, and sophomore Elise Dumouchelle added 12 kills for the Spartans (21-11).
“It’s really upsetting because it’s the last time I will ever play volleyball,” Hendricks said. “It was such an honor to be a senior and make it to states. I wouldn’t want to end the season any other way.”