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Loudoun Valley rolls past Forest Park

In case, like me, you opened up today's sports section and thought "why are there no quotes from the winning team in this story?" Here's the full, un-cut version for your viewing pleasure, equipped with quotes from Valley seniors Morgan Clark and Nicole Bennett.

Late in the third set of Thursday’s Virginia AAA Northwest Region semifinal, Forest Park senior Kellie Goss absorbed a vicious winner from Loudoun Valley middle hitter Lindsey Phipps. The ball smacked off Goss’s chest for a winner that put the Vikings four points from the region final.

“What am I supposed to do with that?” Goss exclaimed to anyone who would listen.

The answers never came for the Bruins as Loudoun Valley used overpowering serves, crisp setting and plenty of emotion to roll past Forest Park and into the state tournament, 25-10, 25-23, 25-18.

The Vikings (19-5) stormed out of the gates, taking 13 of the first 15 points of the match and needing only 12 minutes to capture the opening set. Cedar Run District player of the year Morgan Clark tallied five kills and an ace to set the tone as Valley overpowered the Bruins’ back line all night.

“Our strategy was to come out aggressive,” Clark said. “We came out with jump serves and we came out nailing their best players instead of trying to avoid them.”

Thursday’s Vikings bore little resemblance to the team the Bruins soundly swept on the same floor on Sept. 5. At the time, Loudoun Valley was without injured senior setter Nicole Bennett and in the midst of three-game losing skid. Following a loss to Chantilly two weeks later, the Vikings switched from a 6-2 attack to a 5-1, which put more responsibility on Bennett in the middle. The team has won 16 of 17 since.

“They had a lot more options this time, (Bennett) moved the ball around well and they were hitting a ton,” Forest Park Coach Jonathan Bukva said. “It was a different team than we played earlier in the season.”

The Bruins (22-3) rallied back in the second set to take a 21-19 lead, but lost their momentum during back-to-back timeouts that allowed junior Sarah Jones to put a brace on a rolled ankle. The Vikings won the next five points and the set and closed out the match with a flurry of winners from Phipps, who led all hitters with 12 kills and five blocks on the night. Clark added nine kills and Bennett had 29 assists for Loudoun Valley which advances to face Albemarle in Saturday’s final. The defending state champion Patriots – who defeated Osbourn Park in four sets in the other semifinal – beat the Vikings in last year’s region final. But Loudoun Valley swept Albemarle on the road in October and is determined to make a run at the school’s first state title since 2004.

“We know what it takes to get to states and to win there,” Bennett said. “The seniors – we want to push past those quarterfinals and leave Valley knowing we brought home another state title.”

By Matt Brooks  |  November 13, 2009; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  Loudoun Valley High School , Northwest Region , Volleyball  
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