The word going in was that No. 7 Osbourn Park, an experienced team, needed to overcome a psychological barrier to knock off No. 3 Forest Park, the defending Virginia AAA champion trying to replace nine players from its title-winning squad.
The word going out: Forest Park is grooming another batch of dominant players, and the Yellow Jackets are still grasping.
The Bruins won the first two games last night and withstood a late charge to earn a 3-1 home win over Osbourn Park by scores of 25-22, 25-18, 21-25 and 25-23.
It was supposed to be a rebuilding season, at least early on, for Forest Park. But the Bruins (2-0) already have knocked off Osbourn Park (1-1) and Stonewall Jackson, the teams expected to be their closest Prince William County competition.
"We still have it," declared junior outside hitter Alix Grimm, who in addition to her clutch play displayed some of the hard-nosed effort of last year's seniors. "Our program in general is very strong, so we knew coming into this we're still contenders."
"I've never lost a game on this court before. Ever," senior outside hitter Sarah Floyd said. "Everybody had their own goals for tonight, but in the end, we all had the same goal: Just preserve our dynasty."
Sloppy service hindered both teams early and a general tenseness did not wane until well into the match. After winning the third game to avoid the sweep, Osbourn Park stormed to a 12-5 lead in the fourth before the Bruins rattled off six straight points, the last coming on Grimm's ace.
The Yellow Jackets, who got a combined 19 kills from seniors Adora Luster and Kaitlin Crutchley, clung to a 20-17 edge before junior Sasha Bondje and Grimm notched kills to help even the score. Forest Park got two of its final points on what appeared to be fortunate mis-hits.
The main difference in the match?
"They're Forest Park and they've won a state championship," Osbourn Park Coach Kate Southcott said. "And we're O.P. and we haven't beaten them since the very first time we ever played them back in 2000."
The rematch is Oct. 6 at Osbourn Park.