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Volleyball champs: Raiders rule the state once again

Loudoun County players are jubilant as head coach Sherrilyn Hanna presents the state championship hardware.—Times-Mirror/Patrick Kane
The Loudoun County Raiders played their best volleyball when it counted most. After seeing their streak of 11 consecutive regional championships snapped in a five-set loss to Millbrook, the Raiders rebounded to win each of their state tournament matches in straight sets.

Loudoun County put the icing on another state championship season with a 25-15, 25-21, 25-16 sweep of Grafton in the VHSL Class 4 final Nov. 18 at the Siegel Center in Richmond.

“I could not be more proud of these girls," Loudoun County head coach Sherrilyn Hanna said. "We knew we had the players to make this happen this year. It was just getting everyone heading in the same direction and making it happen.”

While the end result is a sixth consecutive state title and 10th crown in the last 11 years, the Raiders' journey to state gold was filled with bumps along the way.

“Every year is a long hard road from August to November, and this year proved no different. These girls overcame so much this year," Hanna said, referencing injuries and illnesses. “The name of the game this season has been adversity and fighting through it.”

Nine Raiders - seniors Rebecca Frey, Andersen Vaughan and Jensen Robberstad, juniors Josi Williams, Kira Merl and Ashley Rubino, and sophomores Olivia Mallow, Hannah Prendergast and Chandler Vaughan - filled the stat sheet in the state final.

Rubino, Robberstad and Prendergast led the way up front with a combined 28 kills. Andersen Vaughan set up the hitters with 23 assists and Frey scooped a team-best 17 digs.

Chandler Vaughan served up seven aces, to go with seven assists and five digs.

“There is a ton of work put into it, a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff," Andersen Vaughan said of the season. “Knowing that our hard work paid off again this year is really great. We all love each other on and off the court."

After dropping two matches during the regular season, in addition to the regional final loss to Millbrook, Loudoun County (28-3) swept a pair of regional champions - Blacksburg and Millbrook - on the road to earn a spot in the state final.

Back in the familiar setting of the Virginia Commonwealth University Siegel Center for the title match, the Raiders were dominant throughout in adding to their VHSL record number of championships.

“Every match, the girls just became more determined and intent on making No. 10 happen," Hanna said. “Going undefeated is great, but I think we learned more from our losses. I think it makes the girls dig deeper and really work at practice."

Photos by Patrick Kane


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