Although the Fauquier High School volleyball team did not come away with a victory against No. 9 Gar-Field in the Northwestern Region quarterfinals Tuesday night, it did accomplish an important goal.

"We let them know that we are not some scrubby team from the South," senior setter Stacey Sviatko said after her visiting Falcons tested the Dale City school in a season-ending 16-14, 8-15, 8-15, 10-15 loss. "We really played hard, and we played right with them. . . . We're proud of ourselves and know that we have nothing to be ashamed of."

Fauquier had been waiting all season for this opportunity.

After rolling through a number of first-year teams in the Commonwealth District with a 20-0 record, the Falcons had been chomping at the bit to take on an established team and prove that their undefeated mark was legitimate.

They essentially did both.

Fauquier's front line may have given Gar-Field's big hitters their toughest match of the season, and Falcons junior middle hitter Katie Gaudrault finished the match with six blocks; junior outside hitter Laura Knight added five more.

"I was surprised they were able to block as well as they did," said Indians Coach Sue Shelton, whose team finished the regular season 13-2 before defeating Osbourn Park to win the Cardinal District title. "Defensively they did a real good job hustling. That caught us off guard. They did a good job hitting, and that caught us off guard too."

The Indians proved too deep, and Fauquier made a few too many mistakes, but the match may have been a different story if the Falcons had played the beginning of each game like they played the end: They fell behind 6-0 or more at the start of each game.

Gar-Field allowed Fauquier to come all the way back only in Game 1. After taking leads of 7-0 and 14-7 behind the powerful hitting combination of senior Katie Ratchford (12 kills) and 6-foot-1 junior middle hitter Julia Jackson (21 kills, three blocks), the Indians buckled as Fauquier appeared to relax and gain confidence.

Led by three blocks from Gaudrault, the Falcons rallied to tie the score at 14, and Knight's spike gave them a 15-14 lead before Gaudrault ended the game with an ace.

"Things like that don't bother me, and they don't bother these girls," Fauquier Coach Diana Story said of the deficit. "We've had to come back from big leads before. . . . Once we tied the score [at 14] I knew we were back in the game. With high intensity we seem to play better."

But Gar-Field held off late rallies in the subsequent games. In the second game, Fauquier narrowed a 7-0 lead to 9-6, but got no closer. In the third game, the Falcons trailed, 6-0, and rallied back to within 11-8 at one point. And in the final game, Fauquier cut Gar-Field's 6-0 lead to 9-7 before one final Indians' run ended the match.

The Falcons made the jump from the AA Northwestern District to the AAA Commonwealth District with success this season, not dropping a game in a single match during the regular season. However, that run came to an end in the Commonwealth District tournament Saturday when Sherando defeated Fauquier in three games to win the title.

"It was more disappointing to lose on Saturday than it was to lose today," said Sviatko, whose team had twice beaten Sherando during the regular season. "We had more expectations on Saturday. We wanted to win here, but on Saturday we expected to win."

Added Story on the final outcome of the Gar-Field match: "To win one game against this team means a lot to us."

CAPTION: Laura Knight at the net for Fauquier, which was 20-0 before ending with losses to Sherando in the Commonwealth tournament, No. 9 Gar-Field in the Northwestern Region quarterfinal.