Eighth-ranked Osbourn Park started its warmups for last night's Virginia AAA Cedar Run District volleyball game against No. 9 Fauquier on the cement and grass area just outside the Falcons' gym doors in Warrenton. A few players even dived for stray balls before thinking better of that idea. As daylight started to fade, the Yellow Jackets moved to an auxiliary gym and then to a hallway before ever stepping foot on the main gym floor.
"That's my team," Osbourn Park Coach Kate Southcott said. "Sometimes I think, 'Hey, if we have to go to five games, it might not be the best idea to start so early.' But it's their tradition."
And apparently, it works.
The Yellow Jackets posted their 12th consecutive victory with a 25-20, 25-17, 23-25, 25-23 decision over the Falcons and showed no signs of tiring at match's end. Instead, Osbourn Park (14-3, 7-0) played with steady emotion and strength, making far fewer unforced errors than its counterparts.
Fauquier dropped to 14-2 and 5-2, its only defeats coming against the Yellow Jackets.
"We were really anxious to get on the floor tonight, maybe overly anxious after the weekend we had, but once we got out there we really ran our offense well," said senior captain Ashley Ferry, whose team posted straight-set victories over Richmond powerhouses Mills Godwin and Douglas Freeman at a weekend tournament. "Our offense has been amazing lately, we've been working and running different plays all the time. And the defense has really improved a lot, too."
Senior outside hitter Liz Wilson did the brunt of the damage on both ends for Osbourn Park, totaling a match-high 11 kills, 9 digs and 10 service points, including three aces. But it was three straight service points by junior Leslie Crowe -- including an ace on match point -- that prevented the Falcons from pushing it to a deciding fifth game.
"We just had too many unforced errors, and against a team like this you can't afford those kinds of mistakes," Fauquier Coach Diana Story said. "I think nerves for us were part of it. We haven't played the kind of competition like they saw this weekend, so it takes us some time to get over those jitters and realize we can play with them. But I'm really happy with the way the girls responded.
"We're going to see them again. And they're going to have to see us again, too."