Next Stop for the Strasburg Express - Altavista on a Saturday Night

STRASBURG - Madison County was up 2-1 at Altavitsa Thursday night but the home team rallied back to win games four & five so Strasburg will make the trek down US-29 on Saturday night for the Region B Championship.
Strasburg (23-1) earned their third consecutive trip to the State Tournament at home tonight by sweeping the Governors of Nelson County 3-0 (25-21, 25-11 & 25-21). Bull Run District Player of the Year Jenna Smoot led the attack for Head Coach Suzanne Mathias with a rare double-double. The senior collected 10 kills and 10 blocks in one of her more dominating performances of the season.
Smoot hit the court running by collecting 3 kills and 1 block in the first 2 minutes of action as the Rams raced out to a 7-0 lead. Nelson County (19-6) would rally back throughout the opener and cut the lead to 22-19 on an Ace from Keona Loving. Strasburg closed out the first game 25-21 behind a back row kill from Ally Kaufman and a service point from Meghan Gum.
"Jenna played tonight like she has in the last two matches," Mathias said. "The momentum continued in to the match tonight and that allowed us to get out to a quick start."
Strasburg raced out to a big lead at the start of the second game at 13-4 and this time they would not allow the Govenors back into the contest. The Rams stayed aggressive until the final point and closed out the game with two kills from Jacyln Ayers and two blocks from Smoot. The 25-11 defeat and 0-2 hole would of been enough to crack most opponents but Nelson County answered the bell for Game 3.
NCHS took its only lead of the match at 3-2 in game 3 and tried to match points with Strasburg. The score was 11-8 when Smoot went on yet another tear by scoring two kills and a block inside of a minute to push the lead out to 15-9 but the Governors continued to battle back.
Strasburg led 19-12 when Stephanie Conde made the play of the night by stretching out to get her right arm on a 3 ball while running away from the net. The senior was able to not only track the ball down but send it to the back row and this allowed Smoot to blast a kill to finish the point. The noise in the gym resembled an airplane taking off after the play and the point pushed the lead to 20-12.
NVHS made one more push by scoring five straight points to pull within 20-17 and force Mathias to call a time out in an effort to settle her team down. The team traded points until the score was 23-21 and Mathias subbed Smoot back in one rotation early. Samantha St. Clair answered with a cross court kill and then Smoot closed out the match the same way she started it, by slamming a set to the gym floor.
"We came out tonight and played with a great deal of excitement and we were ready to go," Mathias added. "I told them before the match to have fun and enjoy their ride."
The match Saturday night will serve dual purposes in that the winner will be crowned Region B Champions and play their next game at home on Tuesday night. The team that comes up on the short end of the score board will take a road trip to the Eastern portion of the State in their next match. While punching their third straight ticket to States Mathias hopes that each team is treated individually.
"I want it to be about this team this season," Mathias noted. "It is their ride and I want them to be able to enjoy it."
Brian Eller was in the gym for the Northern Virginia Daily and you can check out his gamer Friday morning around 5:30 at

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