But in the fifth set of a zany match in McLean on Wednesday night, the elder Andrejev took matters into her own hands. The Columbia-bound senior set up three kills, then slammed home three of her own to lead No. 7 Langley to a thrilling upset of second-ranked Madison, 25-21, 23-25, 18-25, 25-21, 16-14.
Alex finished with 22 assists, 13 kills, five digs and a block. Rachel notched 18 kills and a dig. Together, they dealt the Warhawks (21-1, 4-1 Liberty) their first regular season loss in nearly a full calendar year.
“We can just tell each other how it is and what we need to do,” Rachel said. “We won’t get mad at each other, we won’t get frustrated. We know that we’re always family.”
Their relationship on the volleyball court began two years ago, during Rachel’s freshman year on Langley’s varsity squad. But their relationship as teammates goes all the way back to T-ball, when they learned to communicate both in and away from sports.
“When we’re on the court, we’re teammates, so we don’t have a problem telling each other what we need to fix,” Alex said.
“I actually think we tell each other more,” Rachel added.
The Andrejevs took turns peppering Madison, which also lost to Langley in the Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinals last season.
Rachel wore her emotions on her sleeve, visibly trying to pump herself up after an unforced error or serve into the net. Alex was always smiling, even as the Saxons (16-2, 4-1) were on the verge of collapse.
Trailing 21-15 in the fourth set, Alex ignited Langley with her only block of the match, which triggered a 10-0 run to force a fifth set.
“Our team definitely plays better when we stay relaxed,” Alex said. “We just had to kind of look at each other, know that we were there for each other. When we play relaxed and calm, we have the ability to play like that anytime.”
Although Langley tried to stay calm on the court, their bench and home crowd never faltered. Even Coach Susan Shifflett got in on the excitement. When a mishandled dig came flying toward the near corner of the court, Shifflett lunged for the ball and jogged through a door out of the gym, smiling all the while.
“Yeah, I should’ve laid out a little bit more, but I’m getting old,” Shifflett said, laughing. “In my younger days, I would’ve laid out. I would’ve had it.”
When an unforced error by Madison ended the game, the Saxons converged in the middle of the court. Rachel and Alex left the crowd, Rachel’s arm around Alex’s shoulder.
“We fight, but we also get along really well. We’re like any other sisters I guess,” Alex said.
“Yeah,” said Rachel, “we’re weird.”