When their 13-game winning streak was snapped in the final of last week's Virginia AAA Concorde District tournament final, Westfield's volleyball players quickly recognized the pain that comes with losing. After all, the Bulldogs won just nine games in 2004 and never came close to advancing to the district title game.
But the Bulldogs have learned that a loss doesn't have to be crippling. It showed as No. 2 Westfield claimed a 28-26, 25-17, 25-22 victory over host Lee in a Northern Region quarterfinal in Springfield last night. The Bulldogs advanced to the semifinals on Thursday at Centreville, where they will face top-ranked Loudoun Valley.
Westfield (22-2) dominated Lee (16-4) behind its blockers -- 5-foot-10 junior Rachel Haney and 5-8 Whitney Hubbard -- who ultimately frustrated Lancers hitters Mary Horner and Tina Brehm, both juniors. The Bulldogs also delivered a stellar performance on offense behind the passing of setters Kaci Coleman and Kim Corcoran.
"We mourned a little bit" after falling to Centreville in the district final, said Corcoran, who finished with a team-high 21 assists. "But I think we realized not having lost for a long time that anything can happen in the tournament. I think we understand we can do well if we don't make unforced errors and stay calm."
Coleman, who had 13 assists, set up junior outside hitter Caitlin Goodman for a kill that broke a tie at 26 in the first game. Corcoran capped the game at 28-26 with an ace. Freshman Sammy Spees delivered six of her 13 kills in the game.
Westfield carried the momentum into the second game, taking a 19-15 lead. The Bulldogs won six of the final eight points, with Haney and Hubbard connecting on key blocks to seal the game.
"We don't nearly have the height that they do," Lee Coach Rebecca Waters said. "Their height was taking our hitters out of it. You could see us getting frustrated as it became more difficult to get into a rhythm."
The Bulldogs pulled away in the third game, leading 23-19. Junior setter Adrienne Ginter came off the bench to serve an ace, and five points later Goodman capped the game with the last of her team-high 15 kills.
"Our passing was really good today," Goodman said. "I don't think we played our best tonight, but we're working our way back into the competition. We know whoever we face that we're going to have to play our best to compete."
Colonial Forge Rolls
For as long as Colonial Forge junior Emily Frohnapfel can remember, she and her little sister, Sarah, a freshman, have spent their weekends out in the back yard "peppering" a volleyball between them -- whether that family home was in Palm City, Fla., where they grew up, or in Stafford County, where they moved last year.
So it comes as little surprise to the older Frohnapfel that Sarah, the starting setter on the Eagles' volleyball team, gets better every day. Last night against visiting Fauquier in Stafford, Sarah Frohnapfel was at her best, distributing the ball remarkably well and earning 26 assists en route to a 25-17, 25-15, 25-11 sweep in a Virginia AAA Northwestern Region quarterfinal.
The Eagles (19-4) will host E.C. Glass, which defeated Woodbridge in five games, at 6 p.m. tomorrow in the semifinal. Colonial Forge has advanced to the regional semifinal each of the past two years but has failed to win in that round and earn a state playoff berth.
"We're hoping it's going to go a little differently this year," Eagles Coach Keith Mesa said. "We're extremely well rounded this year, that's really been the character of our team all season. We play with one setter, and the other five kids can all put the ball away. And the best part is three of those who do so stand 6 feet, 6-1 and 6-3, so that's a huge advantage."
Sarah Frohnapfel is the youngest player on an already youthful Colonial Forge team, which also starts three sophomores, a junior and one senior. Last night, hitters Emily Frohnapfel (10 kills, two blocks), Audrey Harris (four kills), Abby Mertz (seven), Emily Mohrman (two) and Bianca Richardson (eight) took turns firing hard shots and mixing timely tips at the Falcons' defense, which had no answer. Conversely, the Eagles' defense rarely failed to dig up hits by the Falcons, even when hard-swinging middle hitter Paige Brunsink got her hands on the ball.
"They didn't let anything drop and we let too much," Fauquier Coach Diana Story said. "They were all over the court getting to balls. They're a very young team, but they didn't play that way. They didn't back down. And we'd play well until point 10 or so, and then we'd let it go.
"When you get this far, this is when it's supposed to be fun. But we weren't having much fun."