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Seventh Heaven for Loudoun County volleyball

photoThe Loudoun County volleyball team smiles after accepting its seventh straight Region II champion trophy. The Raiders downed James Wood 3-1 to claim the title.—Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Alanna Dvorak

For the seventh straight year, the Loudoun County High School volleyball team dutifully walked in front of the court Nov. 10 to collect medals. Players smiled behind the banner that read “Region II Volleyball Champions” -the seventh banner the Raiders have collected in as many years.

But when the “Raider Riot,” County’s faithful student section ran down, all bets were off and the girls exuded jubilation at keeping up the school’s tradition as one of the most dominant volleyball programs in the area.

“It feels great that all our hard work has paid off,” Dulles District Co-Player of the Year Taylor Huewe said. When asked if the excitement of regionals wears off after having won it before, she was quick to answer, “Not at all.”

Despite the win, the host Raiders (25-1) looked sluggish to start the match, falling behind by as much as 11-4, unfamiliar territory for a team that is on a 65-match win streak against Region II opponents.

“James Wood came out with a lot of confidence,” Raiders assistant coach Jarod Brown said. “They came out ready to play and it gave our girls a bit of a wake-up call.”

The Raiders narrowed the gap, but still fell in the first set 25-20.

They would trail for just two points the remainder of the match.

County jumped out to a 7-1 lead in the second set, orchestrated by Maggie Phillips at the service line. Repeated James Wood errors helped bolster an already solid Raider lead. Rachel Roberts and Phillips ended the set with a big block to give the Raiders a 25-16 victory.

“I thought we really came out quick in the second set,” Brown said. “That really helped us pick our heads up.”

With the third set tied at 7-7, County went on an 8-1 run to take control. From there, the Raiders depended on minimizing errors and Huewe’s offense. Huewe earned three of County’s last six points to help secure another 25-16 set win.

Though County jumped out to a quick lead against Wood again in the fourth said, the Colonels hung on to keep the score 14-12. But another Raider run, this time 6-1, helped put the set out of reach. Three Colonel errors and kills from Phillips and Jane Feddersen closed out the set and gave the Raiders a 3-1 match victory.

Phillips and Huewe both shone for the Raiders, with Phillips earning 20 service points, including four aces, 15 digs and 11 kills. Huewe recorded a team-high 15 kills. Libero Kelsey Slack had 25 digs and Megan Fox proved to be a playmaker with 38 assists.

Loudoun County now prepares for the state tournament. The Raiders have made it to the state final five of the last six years, winning the Virginia AA state title four years in a row, from 2007-2010. Last year’s run ended in the state semifinals.

Loudoun County hosts New Kent in state quarterfinals Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.

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