Fauquier volleyball coach Diana Story is accustomed to being in the state's highest classification, having led the Falcons to the Virginia AAA semifinals in 1999. But her team, which has spent the past several years in the AA Northwestern District before being bumped up to the AAA Cedar Run District this season, can't say the same.
The Falcons' inexperience -- and a bit of stage fright from a lineup dominated by juniors -- showed early in last week's game against AAA powerhouse Forest Park. But Story's experience -- and her team's talent -- shined late.
No. 6 Fauquier (9-0), after dropping the first two games to the then-No. 5 Bruins (4-1), backed off its aggressive jump-serving style and instead went to work attacking specific areas of the floor, pulling out a long and emotion-filled 19-25, 18-25, 27-25, 28-26, 15-11 victory.
"We came out and played scared those first couple of games," said Story, whose team was well aware of its opponent's history, which includes two trips to the Virginia AAA championship game and one title in its five-year history. "They had heard a lot about [Forest Park], and they had bought into it."
All 10 players on the Falcons' roster have jump-served during games this season, a rarity for a high school team. And several of the players, including juniors Stephanie Alonso, Paige Brunsink, Linda Maharidge and Erica May, jump-serve nearly full-time. But this time, it was not jumping that proved the difference.
"If we're on the floor we can put the ball anywhere we want on the court," Story said. "And we decided we needed to try and take their passers out, and keep our serves in, rather than rely on sheer firepower."
Chantilly Upends Westfield
Chantilly sophomore Jake An, who has a below-par scoring average for the season, shot 5-under par Tuesday to win the individual title and help the Chargers end Westfield's three-year run as AAA Concorde District golf champion.
In perhaps the area's top public school golf league, An (72-66 -- 138) and Chantilly finished the two-day event with an astounding team score of 587 at the par-71 Herndon Centennial Golf Course. Westfield finished second at 593.
"To have these kids shooting scores like that is just crazy," Chantilly co-coach Jim McGraw said, noting that last year's winning score at the Virginia AAA tournament was 608.
Oakton's Malcolm Craig was second at 143, three shots ahead of Westfield's Michael Spear. Chantilly teammates Joe Monte and Gabe Lainez tied for fourth at 147.
The AAA Northern Region tournament is Monday and Tuesday at Brambleton in Ashburn.
Moving On Up
Culpeper junior forward Rachel Geisler has not taken the Blue Devils' move to the AAA Cedar Run District lightly. "We're in a new district this year," said Geisler, the team's leading scorer with nine goals.
"We want to show all these teams here that we're here to win and we're not messing around."
The Blue Devils (8-1), who previously played in the AAA Commonwealth District, are unbeaten in the district, including a win over last season's field hockey district champ, Osbourn Park. And two weeks ago, they finished second to Lake Braddock in the 16-team Herndon Tournament. It was Culpeper's best finish in the eight years it has competed in the tournament, and it could have been better had the Blue Devils not missed a penalty stroke during regulation before falling, 1-0, in overtime.
Geisler had two goals in the tournament and was named most valuable player.
Staff writer Josh Barr and special correspondent Liam Dillon contributed to this report.