In the week leading up to Thursday night’s match against Tuscarora, Broad Run Coach Ellen Roberts didn’t talk about what was at stake. She didn’t mention the baffling reason why the Spartans can never seem to make it past the semifinal round of the Virginia regional playoffs.
“I don’t know if the girls thought about it,” Roberts said. “They probably already knew.”
In the Virginia 5A North region semifinal, their third meeting with Tuscarora, the Spartans finally got over that hump. With a balanced attack and unflappable defense, they defeated the Huskies, 24-26, 25-19, 25-20, 25-15, and advanced to the region final for the first time since Roberts joined the program in 2006.
Broad Run will face Stone Bridge, which defeated Jefferson in straight sets, 25-9, 25-14, 29-27, in the other 5A North semifinal Thursday night, in the region championship match Saturday.
The Spartans (21-9) knew exactly what to expect from Tuscarora after twice defeating their Potomac District foe during the regular season. But Tuscarora also knew what to expect from Broad Run, creating a match that was more about execution than anything else.
“We were both so hyped and we both wanted it. Honestly I just think our team wanted it a lot more than they did,” said senior Rachel Hendricks, who finished with 15 kills. “It was evenly matched and we just brought it out in the end.”
Hendricks was one of several key hitters in a Broad Run attack that threatened Tuscarora (19-7) from all angles. Carmen Ritter had seven kills, mostly from the right side, and Elise Dumouchelle led the way with 17, including several from the back line.
The Spartans coupled that offense with stellar defense, led by Conference 14 Libero and Player of the Year Taylor Austin, who had 11 digs.
“We all talked and figured out that we can’t be scared on the court,” Austin said. “We have to all just take a deep breath after each point and play our own game, rather than play at their level.”