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Volleyball: Rams get redemption vs. Chantilly

Robinson was just three points away from forcing a decisive fifth set in Thursday's AAA Concorde District final at Centreville High School when things started to unravel.

First, district player of the year Susie Murach cracked her jump serve into the net to give the ball over to top-seeded Chantilly. Then the Chargers ran off five consecutive points to knot the score at 22-22 and push the second-seeded Rams to the brink of yet another heartbreaking loss at the hands of their district rivals.

Three weeks prior, Robinson led 2 sets to 1 and then 10-4 in the fifth set before letting the match slip away in what would ultimately award Chantilly the top seed in the tournament. This time, the Rams were determined to reverse their fortunes.

Leading 24-23 in the fourth, junior Tiffany Connatser set senior middle Jenn Brouder for a kill that tied the match at two sets each and in a closely contested fifth, it was the combination of Connaster and Murach once again that proved too much for the Chargers as Robinson claimed its first ever Concorde District title 25-21, 21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-12.

"We worked so hard to get to this point, and then to win it, it's ridiculous," Connatser said. "We really just had to remember what we were fighting for. It's the district finals, this was our last shot, so we just had to leave it all out there."

Concorde District player of the year Susie Murach helped lead the Rams to the district tournament title. (Tracy Woodward, TWP)

In role reversal from their regular season meeting, the Rams came out firing to take the first game but Chantilly battled back to winning the second and third despite trailing throughout. Then in the fourth and fifth sets, Connatser hooked up with Murach on eight kills to counter multiple big points for the Chargers. On the final point of the match, Connatser set Brouder once again for the kill that sent the Rams and their fans into a jubilant celebration on the floor.

"That's a great combination, Robinson Coach Jill Pearson said. "Tiffany can put up a consistent ball every single time and Susie's swing and her ability to mix it up does a lot for us. But our middles also did a great job of giving them those looks and that's been keeping us going the whole season."

The No. 3 Chargers (18-3) were shell-shocked after giving up a 2 sets to 1 lead and taking an 8-4 lead to start the fifth set only to let that slip away as well. Following the match, Coach Charles Ezigbo cited his team's numerous errors on the night, which included a multitude of service errors that killed momentum and eventually handed the Rams the ball with match point.

"They competed well, but it's always the little things that make the difference," Ezigbo said. " I think we made untimely errors that gave them momentum and we just can't do that. I told them we need to walk out of here knowing we can compete with anyone in the region."

With the victory, the Rams earned the top seed out of the Concorde for next week's Northern Region tournament. Robinson hosts Edison - the fourth team out of the National District - and would face either W.T. Woodson or Madison in the quarterfinals should they advance. Meanwhile, the Chargers host National District No. 3 Washington-Lee before a potential trip to Patriot District champion South County in a quarterfinal matchup that some predicted would have been reserved for the region final.

"This gives us a huge confidence boosting going into the region," said Murach, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. "We need to finish first or second in the regional in order to reach states then our goal is to win it."

By Matt Brooks  |  November 6, 2009; 10:26 AM ET
Categories:  AAA Concorde District , Chantilly High School , Robinson , Volleyball  
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Next: Week 11 in the Northwest Region

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