“A lot of the momentum in a match comes from hope,” Loudoun County Coach John Senchak said. “It’s important in this game when they’re down, you have to keep them down. Hope will win points for you. You can’t win them without talent, of course, but when you have a team down, you can’t let them back in.”
With the win, Loudoun County (27-2) heads to the state final — set for 4 p.m. Friday at VCU’s Siegel Center in Richmond — in search of its eighth consecutive championship. The Raiders will face York County powerhouse Grafton in the final for a third consecutive year; Grafton beat Warhill in four sets Tuesday.
One of the players’ goals coming into the semifinal match was to start strong but then stay focused if they took the first set. Too often, Senchak said, the adrenaline that comes with winning the first set can derail a team, at least briefly.
“Of course we want to maintain the momentum, but it’s hard because this is a game that constantly resets itself,” he said. “You win a set, and then the score is 0-0 all over again. Managing the emotion and adrenaline of the set is always the challenge.”
Senchak credited the team’s efficiency and closing ability to roster balance and an aggressive, precise serve that often takes opponents, such as Blacksburg (23-5), out of their system.
“It’s a rare thing to have players who are just so well-rounded that I can play them all the way around,” he said. “They can play back row and still bring powerful attacks at the net. It’s a great luxury.”
Briar Woods falls in Class 5
Briar Woods, one of just two teams that can say it defeated Loudoun County this year, was also dominant down the stretch this season. The Falcons entered Tuesday night’s Class 5 semifinal at North Stafford riding a 13-match winning streak, having not dropped a set since Sept. 24.
But the Falcons’ postseason run came to a halt in a 25-14, 25-13, 24-26, 21-25, 21-19 loss. The state semifinal exit marked the end of a stirring campaign for the Falcons, who were one of the best teams in the area just a year after finishing 12-11.