FLS Varsity brings you the scores, stats and stories from Fredericksburg-area high school sports.
CONFERENCE 22 VOLLEYBALL: Cougars molding at right moment
Courtland senior volleyball standout Anna Gallup performed the moonwalk as she slapped hands with teammates standing in line to accept their Conference 22 championship medals.
The top-seeded Cougars smiled, laughed, danced and posed for pictures as they celebrated a 3–0 (25–12,
25–15, 25–14) home victory over Fauquier Thursday night in the conference tournament title game.
Courtland (24–1) will host Conference 21 runner-up James Wood Tuesday night in a 4A–North Regional playoff quarterfinal.
Fauquier (15–10) will visit Loudoun County.
The regional playoffs will take the Cougars one step closer to their goal of reaching the state tournament after disappointing losses in the Region I playoffs the past two years.
“All season long we’ve been talking about, ‘We’re going to states. We’re going to states,’” said senior setter Bianca Rumbaugh who recorded 33 assists Thursday night. “Last year we had a bitter ending. We lost to New Kent [in five sets] in the match that would’ve got us to states. So that’s been our goal the entire year. We’re on the road to doing it.”
The Cougars are making sure they enjoy the ride.
Gallup said she and her teammates are finally having fun. They’ve been winning all season long, but not with the smiles they exhibited Thursday.
“I think some of the kids have discovered what their roles are,” Courtland coach Bob Hott said. “You’re seeing the kids fulfilling their roles, stepping up and doing what they should be doing.”
Gallup said the slow team-building process is because a group of nine seniors was hesitant to embrace the rest of the team. The seniors preferred the Cougars consist of nine to 12 players this season, but received word from Hott in the preseason that he was keeping 15.
Gallup said the seniors were initially “furious” with Hott, and it wasn’t until recently that the entire team began to bond.
“You could tell on our faces that we weren’t enjoying it,” Gallup said of the early-season success. “But now we’ve realized we’re not going to drop anyone on the team, so we might as well get used to each other.”
The newfound chemistry showed Thursday night.
Gallup recorded 10 kills and seven blocks. Senior McKay Richardson added 18 digs, while senior Josie Till added seven kills and three blocks.
It added up to the Cougars coasting to big leads in all three games, as they defeated the Falcons for the third time this season.
“They’re just consistent all the way through,” Falcons head coach Diana Story said. “And then they have Anna. She’s a big part of their game. She makes a difference no matter what they’re doing.”
The Cougars are aiming to erase the memory of that loss to New Kent in the 2012 regional semifinals. Rumbaugh said she remembers the exact spot on the floor that the final point landed, as the Cougars lost the deciding game, 15–13.
“It’s still fresh on our minds,” Rumbaugh said. “Now we’ve gotten to the point where we’re playing the best volleyball we have all year. It’s not just the seniors. Everybody’s stepping up, and we’re finally playing Courtland volleyball.”
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