Thursday, July 3, 2008

A great day on the Volleyball Court @ Christopher Newport U.

Yesterday might have been the trickiest of all the days since the season started. Two of the Strasburg Rams Volleyball players and head coach Suzanne Mathias were participating in the East meets West All Star festival that has been going on all week down in the Hampton / Newport News area of Tidewater. Kaitlin Smoot and Katie Baker were both named to the Virginia State All Star Team for the 2007-2008 season and Mathias was named as one of the 3 coaches for the East squad. This made for the split twin bill- first driving the 190 miles down to Christopher Newport University and then making it back to Luray for the Wrangler-Cards game.

The players named to the team included all three classifications (A,AA & AAA) so being named to the squad was quite an accomplishment for each of these young ladies. It was great to see both of them as well as both sets of their parents again. Their is a coaches clinic for the week going on at the same time so I was able to visit with Coach Morgan and Coach French from Strasburg as well. I even ran into one of my Rebel Baseball Broadcast partners- Charlie Dodge. Charlie has been involved in coaching and developing students/athletes in Warren County for quite a long time and is very well respected in the H.S wrestling community in our area.
There were two other young ladies participating in the Volleyball game with ties to our Valley as well as the Strasburg volleyball team.

Page County High School's Ashley Henry was also named to the East squad after finishing an incredible athletic run at PCHS. Henry played Volleyball, Basketball and Track while wearing the Panthers colors.She was joined by her VB Coach Alan Knight and her parents (Steve and Kim Henry) for the festivities and Page News and Courier Sports Editor Bill Meade was there as well.Ashley will be attending Va. Tech next season.

Elena Kritter (Rapphannock County) made it three players from the Bull Run District by joining Smoot and Baker on the East team. These three ladies faced off against each other a number of times over the past two seasons and everyone that was in attendance was treated to great volleyball. Gene and Lynne Kritter are her parents and they might be making a trip back for the festival in a couple of years with Elana's younger sister. Ms. Kritter will be attending Lynchburg College in the fall.

The last time I watched Katie Baker play Volleyball was simply one of the most dominating sporting performances I have ever witnessed on TV or in person. Larry and Jane Baker were both there in the gym yesterday and that night @ VCU. Strasburg was down 2-1 in games and struggling in game 4 in the State Championship game when Katie simply took over the match. By the time the dust settled in Richmond that night Baker had carried the Rams to a 28-0 record and their first State Championship. I was lost for a way to describe the events that took place during that 30 minutes but I was wondering where this Super Hero's cape was hidden. Katie will be off to Bridgewater College this fall and will play Volleyball for the Eagles.

The next young lady is just simply- something very special. Kaitlin Smoot (Larry & Judith Smoot) made me take notice from the very first time I reported on her teams' play. The way that the conversation goes in Boxing is pound for pound who is the best fighter of all the weight classes? I would like to say that of all of the athletes I have watched over the years in all of their sports, Kaitlin is as Great at what she does as anyone playing a team sport. Her understanding of the game and what needs to happen next on the floor is just the start of the assets of this young lady. Her level of awareness and competitiveness helped her set the Virginia High School all-time Assist mark this past season as well as leading her team to a 28-0 mark (Their game mark was 81-8 during that time).

I am sure it helped young Kaitlin that her Mom was one of the most successful VB coaches in the area but while Archie Manning had the knowledge he still had to teach Payton and Eli how to throw the football and how to anticipate was the defense was going to do next. Yes, this young lady was a special player and I feel fortunate to have watched her perform both on and off the court for the past two seasons.

This brings us to the current coach of the Rams VB program, Suzanne Mathias. Mathias was named one of the coaches to the East squad (yes- still trying to figure out how Page County, Rapp & Strasburg all ended up on the East side of the state?) and there isn't a more deserving Coach out there. Mathias is team first, team second and team third and does everything she can to promote the idea of the team being a well balanced family. One last tip of the cap to these Strasburg Rams and all of the things they were able to accomplish as one TEAM this season. Coach Mason mentioned yesterday that she had 75 ladies sign up for JV tryouts at the school this season...

Two more young ladies from Page County made the trip to Newport News as well. Luray's 5'6 Jenny Logan led the Lady Bulldogs all the way to the elite eight this season. Logan broke the 1,000 point mark before her senior season started and proved to be quite a challenge to every opposing coach that faced LHS in 2007-2008. She will be heading over to Bridgewater to play basketball. Johnny Painter was her coach the past two seasons @ LHS.

PCHS Alan Knight was doing double duty down @ CNU this week. Knight coaches both the Volleyball team and the Softball team for the Panthers. He was there with Ashley Henry and Megan Viafora. Viafora (Ralph & Nerissa) shined on the softball diamond for Knight and her parents will get to continue to watch her play as she will be attending Eastern Mennonite University this fall...

A job well done by each one of these very special student athletes and their coaches...

Here are some pictures from the adventure:



The Gym @ CNU

Heading into the Arena

Katie & Kaitlin warming up before Game 1

Kaitlin (10), Ashley (4) and Elena (far right)

Final words of wisdom

from the All-Star coaching staff




Team pic of the East Squad


Nice turnout for the2:00 PM start

Game Time


East finishes strong to capture Game #1 25-21

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