The chant that rose from the large Cave Spring contingent midway through the second game of the Knights' Virginia AA volleyball championship against No. 2 Loudoun Valley was, "She's your whole team."
The words pierced Vikings junior Blair Brown, the 6-foot-4 middle hitter to whom the Knights' fans were referring. Because as dominant as Brown can be, even she knows a team doesn't finish 29-0 -- and with its third state championship in five years -- without being solid at every position.
That's something Loudoun Valley, which bested two-time defending champion Cave Spring, 25-16, 25-23, 25-22, on Saturday at Carroll County High proved time and again this season.
"It makes me crazy," Brown said. "This team has everything. The reason we were able to come so far is because we're so well-rounded."
The Vikings boast two dazzling defensive specialists in seniors Jennifer Everhart and Regina Driscoll, who seem to get to every ball hit their way. They also feature two standout setters in seniors Jennifer Todd and Allison Hamilton, who shone in the team's newly designed 6-2 offense that kept both setters on the floor throughout the rotation. And senior hitters Amanda Kole and Sarah Neikirk and sophomore Jamie Sapp are equally capable of punishing a defense, too.
But yes, the Vikings also clearly have a star.
Brown totaled a match-high 18 kills, 6 blocks and 9 digs in the victory, punctuating the end of what proved a critical second game with a blazing shot from the middle that brought the crowd to its feet and seemed to stagger the young Knights, who have no seniors. And with the Vikings trailing 22-21 late in the third game and the Knights looking to force a fourth, it was Brown who registered back-to-back kills -- one from the left side and one from the middle -- that put Loudoun Valley back in control at 23-22.
One call against Cave Spring (27-2) for being in the net and one final combination block by Brown and Hamilton capped Loudoun Valley's perfect season.
"Oh, no question she's the best player in the state," Knights Coach Tamalyn Tanis said. "We tried to simulate her in practice, but you just can't do it unless you can recruit a 6-foot-5 guy who really knows how to play. It's not just the speed she gets on the ball, but it's the sharp angles the balls are coming at you. It's astonishing."
With one season to play, Brown has surpassed 1,000 kills for her career and is already the unofficial Virginia A/AA all-time leader in that category.
"I've been trying to figure out how to express this, but it's like you wait a lifetime for an opportunity like this," Loudoun Valley Coach Laird Johnson said. "You put so much effort into what you want to achieve, and to have a group of girls like this who enabled us to do it is absolutely amazing.
"Even as a coach there were times when I would just sit back and enjoy what I was watching."