The Osbourn Park volleyball team entered the gym at a double clip before Friday's Cedar Run District championship match against Osbourn.
Rush-hour traffic had slowed the Yellow Jackets' bus, and the team didn't reach the floor at Potomac High until less than a half-hour before game time. Several minutes into the 20-minute warmup session, the Yellow Jackets were still tying shoelaces, adjusting uniforms and otherwise rushing about.
The match started on time, but Osbourn Park never slowed down. The Yellow Jackets scored five points within the first 90 seconds, claimed the first game in less than 20 minutes and wrapped up their second consecutive district title in just over an hour.
Their 15-4, 15-5, 15-5 victory set up a home match with Patrick Henry-Roanoke in Tuesday's AAA Northwestern Region quarterfinals and left senior setter Casey Sarver thoroughly impressed.
"The serves were good, the passes, sets, hits, everything," said Sarver, whose team won its ninth straight and improved to 15-3. "Everything was on; the whole game was on."
Osbourn (12-8) had played two competitive regular season matches with Osbourn Park, including one a week earlier in which the Eagles claimed the first game.
The difference Friday? "A big old banner on the wall, I guess," Osbourn Park Coach Kate Southcott said. "That always gives you a little bit of motivation."
Sarver led the initial charge, serving five straight points to start the first game and adding five additional service points later in the game. The Yellow Jackets began the next two games with runs of 14-2 and 7-0, never providing an opening for Osbourn to reverse the momentum.
"We were able to pull together so fast" after the late arrival, said senior Lindsey Thorne, who had seven kills. "I think everything in our season led up to this point. . . . [Winning districts] was one of our biggest goals; now it's over and we did it."
They did it thanks to a solid 11-player rotation, with all 11 making meaningful contributions. Sarver, who had a match-high 15 assists, was complemented by secondary setters Shannon Smith and Kristen Wolf, a sophomore.
Sarver and sophomore Christie Kirby also played excellent defense, with Kirby sprawling for several impressive digs.
The back row defenders "were playing out of their minds," Southcott said. "We were on fire tonight, there's no doubt about it."
Yet another sophomore led the way offensively: outside hitter Kaitlin Crutchley used both power and precision to notch 17 kills without a single error. "She was being very smart about where her hits were tonight," Sarver said. "She just has a lot of power, and she knows how to deliver it."
In one dominant stretch, Crutchley recorded four kills in a six-point span early in the final game. "She comes out of nowhere as a sophomore, and all of the sudden she's killing everyone else on the court," Thorne said.
The inexperienced Eagles struggled to string points together, but first-year coach Keith Howell said that was to be expected for a team that already has won more matches than it had in the previous two years combined.
"I attribute [the loss] to not being used to being in this position," said Howell, whose team will make its first AAA Northwestern Region appearance Tuesday at Western Valley champion Franklin County. "We gained some experience, and, hopefully, the people coming back next year will learn from this."
Senior Laura Dwyer led the Eagles with eight kills, and senior Lydia Sumner added three kills and six assists.
Forest Park Wins Cardinal Throughout their undefeated regular season, Forest Park's players reveled in their deep and talented bench.
Four junior varsity call-ups before Friday's Cardinal District championship match with Hylton at Woodbridge High further increased that depth, and the No. 6 Bruins couldn't be happier. Relying as usual on a slew of weapons, Forest Park recorded a 15-12, 15-6, 15-3 victory, earning a home quarterfinal Tuesday against Brooke Point.
"Even with [the call-ups], there's now 16 of us that can play on the court," said senior Jessica O'Neal, who had eight solo blocks. "We're going [into regionals] confident and aggressive, playing to the best of our ability."
Marisa Gross led Forest Park (20-0) with 14 kills, Valerie Ball had 21 assists, and Ali Krieger added 13 kills and seven assists.
Hylton now finds itself in a familiar situation. Last year, the Bulldogs lost twice to Forest Park in the regular season and again in the district final, before ultimately winning the Northwestern Region. They'll try to replicate that feat starting Tuesday at Albemarle.
"We're pleased with the fact that we're still playing," said Hylton Coach Karen Mays, who has only four players back from last year's team. "The girls believe in themselves and they're playing with confidence."