Virginia State Final Champions
In this article:
In the preseason I picked six high schools that I thought could win state championships. I hit on five of the six. Flint Hill won the VISAA and Georgetown Day won the DC championship. Langley won Class 6 and James…
In the preseason I picked six high schools that I thought could win state championships. I hit on five of the six. Flint Hill won the VISAA and Georgetown Day won the DC championship. Langley won Class 6 and James Wood won Class 4 in Virginia. Richard Montgomery won the Class 4 Maryland State championship. The one I missed was Riverside, but they still had an incredible season, going undefeated until losing to First Colonial in the finals of the Class 5 championship. Below are the results of the Virginia state championships in Classes 3-6.
Saxons Power Takes Down the Bobcats
Langley had lost only three matches all season. All three came against Madison. On the other side Battlefield lost their first three matches of the season. They also accomplished what Langley could not, beating the Warhawks in the semi-finals to eliminate them. The Bobcats soon learned that trying to do the same against the Saxons would prove a little more difficult.
Langley may have two of the most powerful outsides in the area withand hitting left side. Both stand over six feet, both play six rotations, though Langley rarely sets the back row, and both are committed to Division I colleges. Leni to Michigan and Ana to James Madison. The bad news for the other high schools is that both are only juniors and will return next season.
The Saxons also have a powerful right side inand a setter in who feeds her some sweet back sets. Langley seemed to be at their best when Chloe powered those sets to the floor. By my count she had over 15 kills.
The first set did not start well for the Saxons. A number of hitting errors and missed serves got them behind early 8-3. They were able to battle back on kills byand . A Hokenson kill actually gave them an 11-10 lead. Unfortunately for the Saxons the errors reared their ugly head with a hitting error leveling the score at 11-11.
The match remained close after that with no team pushing ahead by more than two points. A tip kill byactually gave the Saxons set point at 24-23 but the Bobcats fought back. A kill tied it at 24-24. A blocking and hitting error by the Saxons followed and the Bobcats prevailed 26-24. Langley mistakes early and late proved critical in the loss.
Langley regrouped in the second set jumping out to an early 5-0 lead,picking up two aces during the surge. The Bobcats showed some life after getting down 11-5 with setter serving up two aces as well and putting two balls to the floor to close the gap to 11-9. The Saxons went with what was working best, the back set to on the right side. That ended the Bobcat run. Another three point service run by Chloe extended the lead to 18-11. It was over after that with the Saxons cruising to a 25-16 win.
The third set was tight until theto connection changed the tide. An kill in the middle extended the Saxon lead to 19-16. At that point fed for four kills. finished the game with a spike to the floor and a 25-17 win.
In set fourcontributed four aces during an eight serve run, turning a 15-12 lead into a 23-12 rout. finished it off with a blast to the floor and the celebration began.
Langley had to play without their normal libero, who sustained an elbow injury during the Madison regional match. (edit: Amber normally starts at libero. In the two Langley matches I watched Cid was the libero. When I was told the starting libero got injured I thought it was Cid) and did an incredible job passing and playing defense to allow the Saxons to set their pins. It is their third state championship, the last two being in 2017 and 2013. They lost in the finals in 2015 and 2007. For the Bobcats, this was their first appearance in the finals. They had appeared in the semi-finals in 2019 before losing to the eventual champions Kellam.
Second Times the Charm for First Colonial
Last year First Colonial played in the finals against an undefeated Midlothian team. They lost in five, losing the last two sets 25-16 and 15-13. This year they returned to the finals to play another undefeated team in the Riverside Rams. Their seemed to be a focus not to let the championship game get away from them a second time.
The Patriots played some incredible defense, with Michigan State commit liberocontrolling the back row. She refused to make any ball hit the floor without making every effort to retrieve it. Most of the time she achieved success. It allowed the Patriots to win the second time in the finals, this time allowing no fifth game by winning the fourth.
In the first set Riverside had trouble passing and the connection between setterand middle was missing. had a five point service run and the Colonial middles and terminated a number of Ram spikes before they could get over the net. They jumped out to a 20-12 lead and eventually won 25-17.
proved difficult for Riverside to stop in set two. The Patriots continued their stellar defense with going on another early service run. They jumped out to an early 17-11 lead. Defensive specialist Lauren Sateri sparked the team with an ace serve. Her serving got the team to within one point at 17-16. also began to find the range with her kills giving Riverside their first lead 22-21 and her final kill of the set finished off the game 25-21.
and took control of set three with the scrambling Patriot defense continuing to foil the Ram offense. A diving dig still allowed a middle kill by to give the Patriots a 19-11 lead. This time they did not allow the lead to evaporate. They went on to win 25-15.
First Colonial jumped out to an early 3-0 lead due to some early Ram errors. The game remained within three throughout the set, with First Colonial up 20-17 late. The Rams battled back with three kills bygiving them a 23-21 lead. Another Schaefer kill on a quick middle set put them within set point at 24-22. The Rams could not seem to put a ball away after that. took charge and put three balls to the floor, the final one giving them a 27-25 win and their fourth state championship. The last thing First Colonial wanted was to play a fourth game like they did last year against Midlothian. For Riverside, it was their first appearance in a championship final.
James Woods Goes Back to Back
From 2007 to 2021 Loudoun County were the Class 4 champions in fourteen of those 15 years. No more. This is the era of James Woods, who have now made it back to back after a sweep of Hanover. With their two offensive leaders,and only sophomores they could have more to come. They will lose setters and to graduation but the well is not dry.
The first set was the most competitive. The Eagles relied on their 6’2″ right sideto provide most of their offense. They also used her for setting when they were serving, taking out their setter Jade Collier from the front row to bring in a taller blocker in right side Claire Hubert. Once they went to serve receive Claire came back in the game. A kill gave the Eagles their largest lead of the set 18-13.
The Colonels chopped away at the lead until akill knotted the set at 21-21. was called upon to produce two critical hits to give James Wood set points at 24-23 and 25-24. Another kill tied it at 25-25. A net serve gave the Colonels set point again and a net call on an attempted block eventually gave the Colonels the first set 27-25.
The second set was again close at the start but akill and an ace on her serve gave the Colonels a four point lead at 20 to 16. The Eagles would come no closer, with three blocks by middle securing the 25-20 victory.
The third set saw the Eagles get to within two at 12-10, but after that James Wood ran away with the game, winning 25-14.led the team with 14 kills and four aces.
James Wood played the game without a libero and only a 10 player roster. They will lose four of those players to graduation. Finding a setter will be their main priorty.
Hidden Valley Wins Class 3
and each contributed 24 kills to lead the Titans past Grafton in four 25-19, 25-22, 25-27 and 25-19. For the Titans it was their third championship, the first two occurring in 2016 and 2013. Last year they went undefeated until losing in the championship match to York in a reverse five set sweep. This match had a much sweeter taste.
For Grafton, they are still looking for their first championship. They have plenty of second place finishes. This was their tenth second place finish, the first for class 3. They finished second to Loudoun County five years in a row from 2017 to 2021 and in 2010, 2009 and 2007 they were also the bridesmaid. Ironic that Hidden Valley finished second to Loudoun County in 2012 and 2008 when they played in Class 4. Now both teams will play in Class 3.