RICHMOND — It was the second serve from Sela Carrington that turned the tide for Loudoun County. The four-time defending Virginia 4A champions trailed by five points midway through the second set. Then Carrington served an ace that sparked a 6-0 run and got the Raiders back on track Saturday.
Loudoun County is now the five-time defending state champions.
“We needed the momentum to shift toward us,” Carrington said. “That’s how this team works. We get one, then we get another one and another one.”
The Raiders (29-2) used a familiar formula to beat Jamestown in four sets, 17-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-17, at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Siegel Center .
Loudoun County has built a dynasty on aggressive serving and ferocious net play. It has won nine of the past 10 state championships and established itself as the gold standard for volleyball in Virginia. Three of its past four titles have come against Jamestown, with each match remarkably similar to the last.
Not that it’s easy, Coach Sherrilyn Hanna said.
“It’s hard to win that first one, and then it appears easy,” she said. “It’s not. It’s a struggle every year.”
And on Saturday, Jamestown proved it. The Eagles (25-2) forced the Raiders into 10 errors in the first set. They outhit the Raiders 12-10 to take the opening set.
After a tight second-set win, Loudoun County fell into a 16-8 hole in the third. Then Carrington stepped to the service line.
“You just need to get the first one in,” she said.
“When it was insurmountable, it seemed, we kept fighting,” Hanna said.
She did and forced the Eagles into an error. She aced her second serve, andJensen Robberstad notched one of her seven blocks following her third serve, then stuffed home a kill on the fourth. The set — and the match — had turned.
Star hitter Hailey Rubino spiked two balls out of bounds to give Jamestown a brief lead but then smacked a kill down the line to take the set.
“We mixed it up,” setter Andersen Vaughan said.
Vaughan set up middle hitters Carrington and Robberstad early, then worked back to Rubino and Hannah Aycock on the outside as the game wore on. The two combined for seven kills in the last set.
“I think I had to take a second to calm down, and once I did that, I sped it up,” Vaughan said. “It threw them off their game.”
And Loudoun County stepped up its blocking game. The Raiders had three in the final set, including one from sophomore Ashley Rubino that halted a Jamestown run.
Loudoun County won 10 of the next 15 points. A crisp serve from Vaughan that the Eagles couldn’t corral gave the Raiders the set and match.
“When I was coming up through middle school, you see the Raiders, and you say, ‘Wow, that could be me someday,’ ” said Aycock, a senior.
Now she’s part of a class that has never lost a state championship.