Langley had to rally to earn its 21-25, 25-21, 25-12, 25-15 victory over host Madison last night. But a come-from-behind win over the defending Virginia AAA Liberty District champion didn't seem to excite the fifth-ranked Saxons.
Perhaps that's because Langley has breezed through the regular season and appears poised to finish undefeated after sweeping the Warhawks for the second consecutive year. Or maybe the Saxons are still thinking about the disappointing end to last season, which included a surprising first-round loss to McLean in the district tournament. Madison went on to win the district title, and Langley lost to Robinson in the Northern Region semifinals.
In any case, Langley (11-0, 9-0) overcame a shaky start with steady defense and several much-needed scoring runs to win last night in Vienna.
"I think we were a bit surprised," Langley outside hitter Caroline Patten said. "It took us a while to come together. But when we find that moment, it's hard to win a match against us."
With four matches remaining in the regular season, Langley's players refuse to take anything for granted, despite their domination. The Saxons entered last night's match having lost five games all season, by an average of 4.8 points.
Madison (7-3, 5-3) immediately put Langley on its heels in the first game, using strong defense and off-speed kills intended to get over the 6-foot-4 Meredith Doyle. The Warhawks took a 5-0 lead, and the frustrated Saxons could not recover -- especially without starting senior setter Tereza Widmar, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury for two weeks.
In the second game, Langley adjusted its defense to dig out the off-speed kills and got some much-needed offensive spark from Doyle, Patten and Taylor Kampa. The trio combined for seven kills to lift Langley to a 21-17 lead.
Patten set the tone in the third game with three kills, and senior setter Katie Mahowald added two aces that gave the Saxons a 20-12 lead. In the decisive fourth game, Doyle recorded three kills and made some crucial blocks as Langley built an 18-10 lead.