Hosting two of the top volleyball teams in the state both empowered and discouraged Forest Park on Saturday. The Bruins blew their two-game lead in a loss to Mills Godwin and later got swept by Douglas Freeman.
The matches showed just how far -- and perhaps how close -- a retooled Forest Park team might be to successfully defending its Virginia AAA title.
The Bruins lost to Mills Godwin, 19-25, 22-25, 25-15, 25-18, 15-12. Hours later, after the two Richmond schools had each beaten Osbourn Park, Forest Park lost, 25-12, 25-16, 25-19 to Douglas Freeman in what Coach Dan Jones called perhaps his team's worst performance of the season, particularly in the serve-receive game.
"The good news is we demonstrated at least for a short period we can compete with the best teams in the state," Jones said. "Unfortunately, they exploited weaknesses we have and have had all year. . . . I don't care how good you are, if you can't control that first touch, you're going to struggle for the most part. Even against average teams you'll have difficulty doing well.
"We played well enough in spurts that I think we can play with any team, at least that I've seen. Unfortunately, we haven't demonstrated the consistency that allows us to beat one of those better teams."
Jones was much more encouraged by his team's sweeping of Stonewall Jackson on Monday night -- 25-15, 25-20, 25-18 -- when the Bruins displayed the sort of ball-control prowess so evident on last year's team. That improved play helped senior Keshia Gibbs collect eight kills, junior Alix Grimm seven and sophomore Katie Goss six.
Douglas Freeman and Mills Godwin each swept Osbourn Park on Saturday at Forest Park, by scores of 27-25, 25-23, 25-15 and 25-17, 25-21, 25-18, respectively.
"It was homecoming weekend, but I'm disappointed that we didn't come to play a little harder," Yellow Jackets Coach Kate Southcott said. "But it's nice to see what everybody else has. We know what their strengths are for sure.
"I think that everybody in practice [Monday] knows we didn't play as well as we could have and it could have been a different outcome if we didn't come preoccupied with other stuff. . . . If we had played 100 percent on Saturday, the outcome might have been different, and we didn't."
Forest Park (12-4) will host Osbourn Park (12-3) on Monday in a tune-up of sorts before their respective district playoffs. The teams have split two matches this season.