Checking in with the Strasburg Rams Volleyball Program- Rams claim road win 3-1 @ Page County

By: Scoop Carter
Crystal Clear News

SHENANDOAH- The Strasburg Rams were able to re-group after dropping game three to the host Page County Panthers to capture a 3-1 (25-22, 25-11, 19-25, 25-18) victory in non-district volleyball action Thursday Night.

Strasburg (2-1) edged the host team 25-22 in game one as the two teams traded points throughout the opener. Both squads are trying to find a comfort level on the floor after being hit hard by graduation in 2007-2008. The Rams graduated seven members of their State Championship team, including team leaders Katie Baker and Kaitlin Smoot. Head Coach Suzanne Mathias was able to welcome back 5 players from last year that will form the nucleus of this years team.

"We are a very young team as we start the season," Mathias said. "They are working hard everyday and playing with a great deal of enthusiasm. We lost 7 seniors that we have to replace with 7 new faces and we to build a trust level out there on the court."

Strasburg looked to rebound from a loss earlier in the week at Class AA Sherando and appeared to find a comfort zone in the second game of the match. Returning senior Bethany Doman led the attack from both the service line and the net as the Rams cruised to a convincing 25-11 victory to make the match 2-0. Sophomore Lauren Agnew collected a number of her 10 kills for the night to join Doman in showing the way.

"Our girls are still learning the game, learning about being a family and learning about how that relates to playing volleyball as a team," added Mathias. "The things we accomplished last year as a team didn't happen over night."

Lady Panther head coach Alan Knight is also trying to guide a team that is playing without their four year team leader, Ashley Henry. You have to go back to the 2004 season for the last time PCHS played volleyball without Henry in the rotation. Knight does have 6 seniors on this seasons squad as Lindsey MacLeod, Lacey MacLeod, Rachel Breeden, Anissa Price, Niki Zwanzig and Liz Bowles will each look to step up their game in hopes of filling the void.

Trailing 2-0, the Lady Panthers opened the third game by once again trading points with the Bull Run District opponent. The score was 19-17 when Price stepped up with a "placed" kill and then both Zwanzig and junior Britney Wolfe added kills to lead PCHS to a 6-2 run to close out game 3 by a score of 25-19.

"Our team works very hard out there on the floor and they do a great job of listening," Knight said. "We just need to work on the execution of the plays. We don't have a dominant finisher out there so we will need to do a number of things really well to be successful."

PCHS (2-2) kept pushing in game four and pulled within 16-14 on kill from Price but on the very next point returning junior Jenna Smoot met Price at the net to record her ninth block of the match to turn the momentum back to the Rams. Three kills from Strasburg pushed the lead out to 20-16 with returning junior Stephanie Conde leading the attack. Page rebounded on the strength of a service Ace from Meghan Gum to pull to within 20-18 before Strasburg ran off the final five points of the match for a 25-18 closing victory.

Notes: After the match I was able to visit with PCHS Coach Alan Knight and those notes are in a separate story that I invite you to read on this site.

The visit with Suzanne Mathais and Jennifer Mason was my first since presenting the school with our VB book that followed the teams efforts to the State Championship. They had a third coach on the bench with them and I was excited for the program when I heard about her...

New Coach - Jan Bane
Title - Head Coach of the brand new Freshman VB team
Ties to Strasburg- Played under former Head Coach Judith Smoot
Daughter Alyssa Bane plays on current JV squad

"The addition of a Freshman team will be a tremendous help for our program down the road," Mathias noted. "Once the team gets established it will give 10 of our players more time on the court. Our next goal is to add a middle school team so we can reach them even sooner."

Coach Mason's junior varsity team once again looked impressive in their 2-0 victory but she knows there is room for improvement.

"We are facing the same thing with the junior varsity that we are with the varsity in that we are very young" Mason said. "There is also the fact that we have ten players that would be playing JV that are playing on the freshman team."

The magical season that the community of Strasburg experienced last year truly was a "Season of a Lifetime" as it told the story of seven remarkable young ladies that spend their entire K-12 together and finished it off with a 28-0 season. The key for this years squad will be to find its own identity and grow together and with Mathias there to lead the way I like their chances...

Strasburg notes : Lauren Agnew (10 kills), Jenna Smoot (6 kills, 9 blocks), Stephanie Conde (6 kills, 2 blocks), Jaclyn Ayers (5 kills, 6 blocks)

PCHS Notes - Bill Meade of the Page News & Courier was at the match and you will want to check out his story in the PN & C next Wednesday...

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