Elena Shklyar, No. 5 Langley volleyball fend off No. 4 Stone Bridge in five sets

Midway through the fourth set Wednesday night, Langley’s offense consisted of setter Elena Shklyar and middle blockers Allison and Olivia Franke rifling balls at Stone Bridge’s backcourt.

The rest of the Saxons’ six players simply tried to feed them the ball.

No. 5 Langley rode its offensive triad to a dramatic come-from-behind win in five sets, 25-19, 23-25, 27-29, 25-23, 17-15.

Twenty-four hours after No. 3 Briar Woods edged No. 6 Loudoun County in five thrilling sets in Ashburn, Langley and fourth-ranked Stone Bridge upped the ante for excitement just down the road.

The Saxons (6-1) fell behind in each set, once by a 10-point margin. And each set, they whittled the Bulldogs’ lead back down.

Trailing 14-6 in a potentially decisive fourth set, Shklyar found Olivia Franke, who blasted a shot down the line. It struck a Bulldogs’ player in the face, and the tide turned.

“We really wanted this,” Shklyar said.

Langley started a 10-3 run anchored by the serving of Christy Qian to win the set. Shklyar, who coach Sue Shifflett called the state’s best setter after the match, had a hand in all five of the Saxons’ final points of the set.

“If we could let her pass, set and hit to herself, we’d let her,” Shifflet said.

Instead, Shkylar leaned on the Franke sisters, senior Allison, and freshman Olivia.

While the rest of Langley’s squad was fending off Stone Bridge attacks, Shkylar worked a steady diet of passes to the Frankes in the middle of the floor.

“I started relying on them heavily,” she said.

It paid off.

During the fifth set, Langley’s movement left gaps open for hitters Raya Mufti and Jackson Friedman.

After Langley fell behind 3-0 then 6-3 to open the set, libero Sarah Maebius served a four-point string to knot the match again.

Sammie Paguia served a 3-0 run for Stone Bridge moments later to retake the lead at 13-12.

And then the teams locked horns, jousting at the net for each of the final four points and weathering long rallies. With a one-point Saxon lead, Gabby Scudder set for Paguia, who squeezed a kill through the Langley back row.

Langley forced Stone Bridge into an error on the next point to take a 16-15 lead. And Shklyar found Allison Franke — old reliable — for the winning kill moments later.

The Saxons stormed the floor. The Bulldogs gazed in disbelief. And the wildest two days of the Northern Virginia volleyball season thus far ended.



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