Handley volleyball swept by Briar Woods

Posted: August 30, 2013

Special to The Winchester Star

Handley junior Emily Snow (left) and senior Rachel Dodson go up for a block against Briar Woods in the Judges’ season opener Thursday. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — When six of the nine girls on your roster are seniors, expectations for the upcoming season are understandably going to be high, especially coming off a season like the Handley volleyball team had last year.

The Judges finished as runners-up in the Northwestern District and won the program’s first regional match since 1996

However, there are a few names missing from Handley’s lineup this season, and their absences will be hard to fill.

Gone are graduated seniors Alison Snow, Alex Barnett and Dierdre Carter, as well as junior foreign exchange student Ana Ribeiro, all players who provided big plays both offensively and defensively for the Judges last year.

As this season moves forward, Handley will look to one or more of its six seniors this year to step in and fill the void, but the story for the Judges Thursday night was their lack of aggressiveness and the inability to change the momentum — two things that were seldom an issue last season.

In each of the three sets Thursday night against visiting Briar Woods, the Judges dug a small hole early and rallied back to within a couple points, only to see the Falcons steal the momentum and ride it to a 3-0 (25-14, 25-17, 25-13) non-district sweep of Handley in the season opener for both teams at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.

“We didn’t really get in sync with our offense tonight, but I think our defense played really strong,” said Handley coach Lindsay Cole. “[We weren’t] flowing together in the first match of the season, getting the whole team on the same page [on offense].”

Briar Woods (1-0) jumped out to an early 5-1 lead in the first set only to see the Judges storm back to within one at 5-4.

The Judges would be within two points on two more occasions, the last at 8-6, before the Falcons extended the lead with a 5-0 run and eventually pushed it to comfortable 18-9 margin.

Handley (0-1) scored four of the next six points to pull within 20-13, but that’s as close as it would be able to get as the Falcons finished off the first set 25-14.

The second set was back and forth early, with five ties and a pair of one-point Handley leads. It wasn’t until late in the set that the Falcons were able to extend a 15-14 lead to four points with a 3-0 run and then close out the set by scoring seven of the last 10 points for a commanding two-set lead.

Briar Woods scored five of the first six points of the third set before the Judges rallied to tie the game at 5-5.

Trailing 12-8 the Judges got a break when Briar Woods committed an unforced error to make it 12-9 and give Handley the serve back, but that’s as close as the Judges would get.

The Falcons grabbed the momentum once again by scoring the next nine points and all but securing their first victory of the season by racing out to a 21-9 advantage.

Handley scored the next three to get back to within 21-12, but that’s as close as it would get. The Falcons closed the match on a 4-1 run to finish off the sweep.

“We have our expectations really high for this season,” Cole said. “We’ll kind of take tonight and learn from it and refocus tomorrow in practice and go with what we need to work on and work out the kinks that we had and get ready for next week.”

Senior Liz Grove led the Handley attack with six kills and junior Alexis Zygmunt added five.