Being ranked third in Virginia by state volleyball coaches brings with it the added expectation that you put away the teams you are supposed to beat and win more than your share against similarly lofty competition.
Osbourn Park will face each challenge this week, the first step handling Battlefield with relative ease last night in a 25-14, 25-14, 25-17 road victory in a Virginia AAA Cedar Run District match.
The more demanding test will come Saturday, when the Yellow Jackets (11-3, 6-0) travel to Richmond to face both Mills Godwin (a Virginia AAA semifinalist last year) and Douglas Freeman, the top-ranked team in the state coaches' poll.
"It's really exciting for us," Osbourn Park senior outside hitter Ashley Ferry said. "I know we all can't wait to play them, kind of to see where we stand against them."
"Hopefully we'll go down this weekend and be put in some difficult predicaments mentally and find out what we're really made of," Yellow Jackets Coach Kate Southcott said. "That's nice to know before the end."
There were no such predicaments last night in a crisp, 60-minute win against second-year program Battlefield. Osbourn Park closed the first game with a 10-0 run, rattled off 11 of 13 points in the middle of the second game and toyed with the Bobcats (10-5, 3-3) in the third before stringing together nine straight points to take a commanding lead.
Seniors Monika Linden and Liz Wilson finished with nine kills each, and Linden added four solo blocks and two block assists. Sophomore Helen Theisen racked up 10 digs, and junior Melissa Campbell had four aces.
For Battlefield, Kristin King, the team's lone senior, and junior Sidney Harbold had seven kills each.
A one-sided early-season loss to Prince William County rival Forest Park -- "kind of an ego downfall," as Ferry put it -- raised eyebrows in the Osbourn Park camp, but a sweep of Fauquier later in September seemed to recalibrate the Yellow Jackets into thinking that, yes, they are good enough to be considered a state contender.
Apparently, coaches around the state agree.
The lofty ranking "brings a little bit more pressure," Linden said, "but it helps us because we work to prove that we are where we're supposed to be."