It's hard, sometimes, not to get caught focusing a little too much on Loudoun Valley junior middle hitter Blair Brown. It's not as though the attention isn't deserved. At 6 feet 4, Brown is not only a dominant presence but also possesses one of the area's most powerful swings in volleyball.
The problem for opponents is that the rest of the Vikings aren't too shabby either.
No. 3 Loudoun Valley rallied from a one-game deficit at home yesterday to defeat Stone Bridge, 20-25, 25-20, 25-18, 25-21, in front of a rowdy crowd of more than 400. The win improved the Vikings to 10-0 overall and 5-0 in the AA Dulles District. The Bulldogs fell to 8-3, 3-2.
"We told the girls coming in that you can't just focus on Blair," Stone Bridge Coach Jill Raschiatore said. "It's not just the Blair Brown show. She's terrific, but they also have a lot of other weapons. If you come in here thinking all you have to do is play Blair, then the other five girls on the court will kill you."
Brown did total a match-high 25 kills and five blocks, but it was senior outside hitters Amanda Kole and Sarah Neikirk and senior setter Allison Hamilton who, when the Bulldogs were looking to push a deciding fifth game, did the brunt of the damage. Kole blasted a shot on the right side through two blockers to tie the fourth game at 21, and after a Stone Bridge miscue gave the Vikings a one-point lead, Neikirk extended the advantage with a shot off a ball that Hamilton dug up after diving on the floor.
An ace by Kole and another kill from the left side ended the match. "Everybody on this team contributes so much," Kole said. "I think we have the best group of girls. I mean Blair is so wonderful and everyone knows that. But we all work together, and we all know that we can rely on anyone on the floor to make a play when we need it."
Kole finished with 16 kills and 13 digs, with Neikirk adding nine kills and five blocks and sophomore Jaimie Sapp eight kills and three blocks. Hamilton and senior setter Jen Todd also contributed 18 and 19 assists, respectively. Junior outside hitter Samantha Ingersoll led Stone Bridge with 14 kills and 20 digs.
"What tonight shows is that we're very balanced," Loudoun Valley Coach Laird Johnson said. "And that's what we've been trying to get to."