In Alana Boyle's first match back last Friday after a right ankle sprain had forced her out of five consecutive volleyball matches, the Loudoun Valley senior was limited to front-row duty. Yesterday at Stone Bridge, that restriction was lifted, and Boyle made the most of her increased time on the court.
The outside hitter earned Loudoun Valley's final side out with her 13th kill, then ended the match with four hard-hit serves to give the Vikings a 15-13, 11-15, 15-8 Virginia AA Dulles District victory in Ashburn.
"She's up there for one purpose, and that's to hit hard," said Loudoun Valley Coach Laird Johnson of Boyle, the lone returning starter from last year's state championship squad. "If it doesn't go in, she doesn't get out of control; she goes right back and hits hard again."
For much of yesterday's match, the hard-hitting Boyle and freshman teammate Blair Brown (15 kills) were countered by a scrappy Stone Bridge defense. The Bulldogs (9-3, 6-2) had not lost a match in more than a month, thanks to a nearly impenetrable back row.
But the taller Vikings (11-4, 7-1) took control in the final game, seizing a 6-0 lead and holding on behind Boyle, Brown and setter Jennifer Todd (22 assists) for their seventh straight district victory.
The teams entered yesterday's match in a three-way tie for first place in the district with idle Potomac Falls. The two-time reigning state champion Vikings can clinch their fifth straight district championship with four more wins.
"We have a lot of new people," said senior Lori Potts, one of only four players with varsity experience entering this season. "We had to mold and get into a rhythm, and I think we've done it."
Note: Group A and AA schools are the only local programs that play girls' volleyball in the winter. Next year, all Virginia schools will play volleyball in the fall.