For a moment Tuesday night at Fauquier, it seemed that the Falcons volleyball team was primed for its second dramatic comeback at home this season. Ninth-ranked Fauquier, which rallied from two games to none to defeat then-No. 5 Forest Park in mid-September, had dropped its first two games to No. 8 Osbourn Park -- the only team to beat the Falcons this season -- but had won the third game and was tied at 23 in the fourth.

The fans sensed momentum had swung Fauquier's way and chanted, "We believe, Falcons!"

But when junior middle hitter Pagie Brunsink's blistering cross-court shot was ruled to have come off the top of the net instead of the outstretched fingertips of an opposing player -- giving the Yellow Jackets a 24-23 lead -- the rally faltered. Osbourn Park junior Leslie Crowe served out the match with an ace.

But the ending seemed to matter little to Falcons Coach Diana Story.

"I know it goes down as an L in the loss column," Story said. "But this doesn't feel like a loss to me. The way we played overall -- and the way we dug down and rallied back -- says so much more to me. This will really be a confidence-builder for us because it's taking a step in the right direction toward how I want the girls to play every night when we step on the court."

For much of the season, the Falcons (15-2), who moved into the AAA Cedar Run District this year, have barely been tested. Aside from the match against Forest Park and the two losses to Osbourn Park (14-3), Fauquier has dropped three other games this season. Such inexperience against tough competition, Story said, translates into the slower-than-usual starts.

But, much as they did against Forest Park earlier this season, the Falcons, who have three regular-season matches remaining, stayed resilient and improved as the match wore on.

"Ultimately, our unforced errors -- too many of them -- cost us, and we weren't helped out with some of the calls that went against us, either," Story said. "But we don't play teams like that every night, and so that's part of it, too. It takes us some time to get over those jitters and realize we can play with them. But I'm really happy with the way the girls responded.

"We're going to see them again. And they're going to have to see us again, too."

Osbourn Park's Ashley Ferry, in white, slams the ball over the net despite the defense of Fauquier's Ashley Frink (16) and Emily Shamblin.