The Loudoun County Captains opened the state tournament with a 25-15, 25-16, 25-17 victory over the Western Albemarle Warriors in the Virginia Class 4 volleyball quarterfinals Nov. 12 in Leesburg.
The host Captains were in control throughout the match. Loudoun County (25-2) overcame a strong challenge by Western Albemarle early in the first and second sets before pulling away as each set progressed.
"We are super determined to make our mark on our state run this year," said Loudoun County senior Sarah Jordan, the 2021 Region 4C Player of the Year. "Our mindset today was to be dominant from the start. Once we got our groove, we just took off. We were supporting each other on the bench and on the court, and we had a great game plan."
The Captains -- sparked by the solid serving of senior Hanna Mullan in the first two sets -- scored four of the first five points in the third set and never trailed on their way to a 25-17 win to close out the match.
"Every team's defense is giving you something and you have to take what they are giving you," Loudoun County head coach John Senchak said. "It's really hard to get athletes who pride themselves on power to take what the defense is giving them."
"I had to convince my hitters that there were points available and we had to be able to hit with a variety of shots," Senchak continued. "I think variety was the key for us. But credit to Western Albemarle, that's a good volleyball team."
The Captains advance to the Class 4 state semifinals to play the winner of a Nov. 13 quarterfinal match between Millbrook and Blacksburg. Loudoun County would host Millbrook or travel to play Blacksburg on Nov. 16.
"They are both really good volleyball teams," Senchak said. "I think we match up fairly well. We are confident, but respectful of our opponents. It doesn't really matter which one it is, we'll be ready to play."
Already Dulles District and Region 4C champions this fall, Loudoun County is two wins away from its ultimate goal of winning a 10th consecutive state championship.
"We all truly love each other. We all are honestly best friends," Jordan said of the tight bond among Captain teammates. "We spend a lot of time together and we know each other's playing styles and where we'll be at certain times on the court. I think trusting each other is the most important thing and that's what we have this year is a whole lot of trust."