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HIGH SCHOOL VOLLEYBALL: Inability to finish costly to Eagles

WOODBRIDGE—Colonial Forge senior Brooke Sanders fought back tears as she contemplated the finality of Thursday night’s loss to Forest Park.

“It’s hard to think that that was the last time we’re all going to be on the court together,” Sanders said after the Eagles were denied a trip to the state volleyball tournament with a 27–25, 26–24, 25–19 loss to the Bruins in the 6A–South Region semifinals.

Not long after those words came out of her mouth, a Forest Park fan walked past her and took a second look.

“Is that No. 7?” the man asked. “You’re the best setter in the state.”

Emotions ran high for the Eagles players after an agonizing loss that signaled the end of the seniors’ high school careers, but the fan helped reinforce what Forge coach Keith Mesa told the girls when the match was complete.

“Don’t let this loss define your season,” Mesa told them.

Colonial Forge (24–6) had a great season. It just ended sooner than the Eagles expected.

“I wanted to win, especially for our seniors, because it’s their last year and we knew it could possibly be their last game,” sophomore middle hitter Nori Thomas said.

The players knew afterward that they let the match get away from them. They had the Bruins on the ropes in each of the first two games before Forest Park came back to win both.

Colonial Forge led 25–24 in the first game and 24–23 in the second.

“We just couldn’t close out. The last 10 points of game one and game two, we just didn’t play aggressively,” Mesa said. “We were tipping and pushing, and they were swinging.”

The Bruins closed out the match with a six-point win in game three. That’s considered a blowout in this highly contested series. The teams played five-set matches in the regular-season finale, an Eagles’ win, and the Conference 4 tournament championship, a Bruins’ victory.

“It was really devastating,” Sanders said. “I think that if we just made less errors here and there, we definitely would have got it and would have been there.”

Eagles senior outside hitter Hope Kelley led the way with 15 kills and 12 digs. Sanders contributed 37 assists, and Isis Garcia had 16 digs. Thomas and Madi Porter added 10 kills apiece.

Forest Park (24–3) clinched a spot in next week’s 6A state tournament. The Bruins advance to Saturday’s regional championship game against First Colonial.

“Colonial Forge has been the best competition we’ve had. We played a couple of years ago, and this is the best team they’ve had,” Forest Park coach Anna Davila said. “This was fun. Just being on the side and being a little part of it was fun.”

Emma McLaughlin led the Bruins with 11 kills. Kenzie Higareda had 15 digs, and Kelsey Leong had 16 assists.

Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442

nwarters@freelancestar.com

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/hsfb/2013/11/15/high-school-volleyball-inability-to-finish-costly-to-eagles/