For Loudoun County High School's volleyball team, the accomplishments are astonishing and continue to mount with the completion of each season.
After Loudoun County staved off two set points, Alicia McCandless delivered consecutive service winners to cap an impressive third-set rally and complete a 25-19, 25-10, 27-25 victory over Grafton in the Virginia Class 4 state volleyball final April 23 in Leesburg.
With a Virginia High School League record ninth consecutive state championship secured, Loudoun County players embraced on the court while home fans celebrated in the stands.
"We left everything on the floor," said McCandless, one of three seniors on the team along with Ella Solomon and Audrey Luhr. "This feels great. To help lead the team to victory is awesome. Every one is special, so nice and polite, and we all work well together."
Loudoun County extended its VHSL record number of state championships to 13, more than double the amount won by any other volleyball program in the state. The Captains not only own the record for most consecutive state titles, but also hold the second longest streak of four consecutive state crowns from 2007 through 2010.
"The network is really strong and the girls really appreciate it," Loudoun County coach John Senchak said of former state champion players attending matches and sending encouraging notes to current players.
"With the pressure of a state title game, add the pressure of all of these players before wanting to see us succeed too," Senchak said. "It's a tough thing to ask these players [to live up to] but they wouldn't want to play anywhere else. I absolutely love these girls."
Loudoun County's sternest test of the postseason surfaced against Dulles District foe Loudoun Valley in the Region 4C final April 15. After outlasting the Vikings in five thrilling sets, the Captains swept Blacksburg in the state semifinals April 20.
The Captains (14-1) led for a majority of the first set and throughout the second set to build a 2-0 lead against the Region 4A champion Clippers. Grafton -- attempting to avoid a fourth consecutive loss to Loudoun County in the Class 4 state final -- produced an 11-5 spurt in the third set to take a 14-11 lead.
"We were clicking in the second set and our chemistry was good," Senchak said. "I put two new players on the floor [in the third set] and we kind of lost our chemistry. My fault, not my players fault ... But it's hard to say don't go to your bench because these girls worked too hard to sit there and just watch."
Loudoun County regained its groove as the third set progressed, winning points at the most opportune times. The Captains erased set points trailing 24-23 and 25-24 before closing out the set and the match on McCandless' serve.