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Bears can’t rattle unbeaten Wolverines

BY ZACH MORETTI

The Riverbend crowd was a sea of pink as the Bears hosted the undefeated North Stafford Wolverines on Dig Pink Night, a game dedicated to breast cancer awareness.

The Riverbend faithful were boisterous throughout, but the visiting Wolverines took care of the Bears 3–0.

“This has been one of the toughest places to play in the district,” North Stafford coach Dan Jones said. “They have tremendous fan support, and on top of that Riverbend is a good team. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but we came out and played one of our best matches of the year.”

Jones’ Wolverines controlled the first two sets, as North Stafford never trailed in either of those frames and won them 25–19 and 25–11. Jones thought his defense was crucial to getting out of the gates early.

“I always like it when our defense plays the way it did tonight,” Jones said. “We weren’t letting balls drop to the floor in the first two games, so it made it difficult for Riverbend to find holes in our defense. I think that part of it sparked our offense.”

Both coach and star player emphasized the importance of a strong start when playing in a hostile environment.

“It was huge and a really big statement to let the fans know and just let everybody know that we are here to play and here to win,” Katrina Houston said.

“If we hadn’t [gotten out to an early lead], than that group up in the stands would have been even more into it than they already were,” Jones said. “So that was important for us to take the fans out, at least a little bit.”

Houston led the North Stafford attack, piling up 17 kills and adding nine digs. The senior was also crucial in the nail-biting final set, as the Wolverines fed her often down the stretch to take the third set 25–23 and seal the victory.

“[Katrina’s] been playing awesome all year,” Jones said. “Sometimes she picks moments to really be great. I told Kendall [Jones] with four points to go, just set her every ball. There doesn’t have to be any mystery to it.”

Houston feels that the confidence that her coach and teammates have in her is important to her success.

“It’s nice to know that I can control myself and just go for it,” Houston said. “Even if I do make a mistake, I just shake it off and move onto the next one.”

Kendall Jones racked up 34 assists, while Jasmine Bonner contributed 18 digs and three aces for North Stafford. But Dan Jones was also impressed with the versatile play of Abby Rosa.

“[Abby] knows what to do on the left side and then can come in and play in the middle and does an effective job in that position,” Jones said. “She played some good defense, and she has a well-rounded game. She can contribute in a bunch of ways.”

Cindy Ehrich, who leads the Fredericksburg area in digs, anchored the Riverbend defense with a game-high 20 digs in defeat. Ehrich now has 352 digs on the season, which leads the Fredericksburg area.

Allison Tkac was the trigger of the Bears offense and had a team-high 12 assists, while Kristin Halo added seven digs and Brianna Smith five kills.

The win kept North Stafford (14–0) unbeaten as they now prepare to host Brooke Point on Thursday.

The loss for the Bears

(12–4) drops them to 9–3 in Commonwealth District play, which moves them a full game behind Colonial Forge in the battle for second place. Their next game will come Thursday when they travel to take on Mountain View.

Zach Moretti: 540/374-5440

sports@freelancestar.com

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