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Volleyball: Chargers Sweep South County

South County entered Thursday's non-district matchup with Chantilly hoping to announce themselves to the rest of the AAA Northern Region as a potential title contender. A year ago, all four of their defeats came at the hands of Concorde District teams, but a sweep of perennial power Westfield in their season opener seemed to shake the trend.

Their hosts - the reigning region champions and favorites to repeat - wasted no time showing the young Stallions they still have some work to do.

Blitzing South County in the opening game, the No. 4 Chargers took control of the match with balanced play throughout their rotation and never let up. The No. 7 Stallions made the final two sets interesting, briefly taking the lead at the outset of each, but could not muster any consistency as Chantilly claimed the victory, 25-11, 25-19, 25-18.

"Our big thing this season is we want to come out with a lot of energy and sustain that," Chantilly senior middle hitter Allison Williams said. "We kept it consistent tonight and it showed in the result."

Behind strong serving from junior Rachel Stahle and senior Laura Misiewicz, the Chargers raced to 13-4 lead. South County looked rattled and out of sync as they frantically tried to defend a constant onslaught from the Chargers front line of Williams, senior Samantha Reeves and junior Christy Harper. The Stallions strung together consecutive points just twice in the opening set and never took more than two points in succession - a product of an uncharacteristically dismal serving performance.

"Our serving was horrendous," South County Coach Dave Prahl said. "If we lose two points we have a tendency to buckle under the pressure and begin to fall apart mentally. I think we just need to focus on keeping it together. We have the skill, with a decent pass, we can put the ball away."

South County (6-2), which has three juniors and three sophomores on its roster, sorely missed the presence of starting setter Regan Jansen, who has missed three weeks with an injury. Senior outside hitter Lindsay Stephens (3 kills, 1 dig) and 6-1 junior standout Simone Antwi (7 kills, 9 blocks) were effective at times but rarely received the quality service needed to put points away. Still, they showed resiliency in the ensuing sets, battling back to a 21-19 deficit in the second and taking an early 4-1 lead in the third.

But the experience and leadership of Chantilly's veteran squad shone through, often in the form of Reeves. With the Stallions leading 10-9 in the second set, the first team All-Met outside hitter recorded two straight kills and won three straight service points to reclaim the lead. When South County cut the lead to 21-19, she finished off another kill and served out the final three points of the set. Reeves finished with six kills and three digs in the match.

The standout performance for the Chargers (7-1), however, came from Harper, who was a force above the net, tallying seven kills and three blocks and applying constant pressure on South County's back line.

"She's improved so much from last year to this year," Chantilly coach Charles Ezigbo said. "She's got a lot more confidence and I think the girls have a lot more confidence in her, so she's getting a lot more sets. It's great to be in a setter's position when you have so many offensive weapons."

With a win over Cox (Va. Beach) at the Virginia Volleyball Showcase in Richmond over the weekend and a split with Flint Hill, the Chargers have already passed key tests in their pre-district schedule. They still have matchups with Mount Vernon, Stone Bridge and Loudoun Valley lined up before they open Concorde District play against W.T. Woodson on Sept. 21, a challenging slate of contests that Ezigbo hopes will help prepare his squad for another deep postseason run.

"If I had to do it over, I would've scheduled more tough teams last season," Ezigbo said. "I didn't make the schedule last year, but playing tougher teams early is definitely going to help us in the long run with where we want to be at the end of the season."

By Matt Brooks  |  September 10, 2009; 11:35 PM ET
Categories:  AAA Concorde District , Chantilly High School , Northern Region , South County , Volleyball  | Tags: Chantilly High School, Northern Region, South County High School, Volleyball  
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