When Middleburg traveled to Oakton to face undefeated Flint Hill, the Dragons were greeted by dozens of conference and state championship banners. For a young team — such as Middleburg, which returned just three upperclassmen — the atmosphere can be intimidating.
And the nerves were evident as the Dragons missed a lot of attacks and serves and fell to Flint Hill, 3-0, on Thursday. Moving forward, Middleburg Coach Maureen DiClementi plans to use the loss as a learning point for her players.
“They see what you have to do to earn these banners,” DiClementi said of Flint Hill’s banners. “You can’t hit that many balls out or miss serves. There was a lot of newness and novice mistakes, which we hope to turn around.”
After the match, DiClementi gathered her players in a circle and asked each to comment on what she learned from the game. She also asked the returning upperclassmen — Chelsea Penfield, Lilian Vargo and Kennedy Bryant — to take more leadership during practice and games.
“We do have a lot of younger players, so I think the nerves definitely did affect the team,” Penfield said. “We have to regroup and refocus because it’s too early in the season to just dwell and act like it’s finished.”
DiClementi said the loss will help elevate the program to the next level.
“This is good for them because, every time they step in, you hope that they grow a thicker skin and learn to turn this around,” she said. “You always have to find a silver lining in something like this, and the silver lining is that the kids responded quickly. There were no tears and they’re ready to get back up tomorrow and we are looking forward to coming back to Flint Hill for their tournament in two weeks.”
1. Flint Hill (8-0) Last ranked: 1
The Huskies are 43-0 since last year.
2. Northwest (4-0) LR: 2
Jenaisya Moore got her 100th ace and 500th dig last Tuesday, and Rachael Bennett also got her 500th dig.
3. Loudoun County (7-0) LR: 3
The Raiders swept Riverside and Millbrook to continue their undefeated streak.
4. Stone Bridge (12-1) LR: 5
The Bulldogs have not lost in the nine games they have played in September.
5. Atholton (8-4) LR: 6
With Lisa Zoch back from injury, the Raiders avenged last week’s loss to Broadneck at the Mason-Dixon Invitational by sweeping the Bruins on Monday.
6. Holy Cross (2-1) LR: 4
The Tartans suffered their first loss Friday against Paul VI.
7. Arundel (5-0) LR: 8
The Wildcats escaped Mount Hebron with a 3-2 victory Monday.
8. Bethesda-Chevy Chase (5-0) LR: 10
The Barons have dropped three sets in the five games they played.
9. Paul VI (8-2) LR: NR
The Panthers enter the rankings after beating Holy Cross and St. John’s.
10. Magruder (10-0) LR: NR
After winning all six matches in the 21st annual Magruder Invitational, the Colonels join the rankings, too.
Dropped Out: Middleburg Academy, Langley
On the bubble: Middleburg Academy (7-2), Chantilly (10-0), Langley (8-3), South River (3-0)