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The Highlander

McLean Volleyball suffers loss against Langley

Highlanders put up unexpectedly strong fight against Saxons
Junior+outside+Goldie+Woods+practices+her+spikes+during+warm-ups.
Kent Arnold
Junior outside Goldie Woods practices her spikes during warm-ups.

Last Thursday, McLean’s Volleyball team faced off against the Langley Saxons. McLean, the underdog in the match, has only won against Langley once in the last 21 years. Although the Highlanders put up a great fight against the Saxons, they ultimately lost 3-0.

“Langley hasn’t lost a set during conference play yet, so we were definitely the underdog,” said junior outside Goldie Woods. “However, I think Langley really underestimated us and expected it to be an easy win.”

McLean started off strong in the first set, winning the first point with strong defense after a great offensive touch from Langley. McLean proceeded to edge out a small lead, but Langley took it back in the 15th point.

The two teams continued to trade small point streaks, until McLean recaptured the lead in the 37th point. Unfortunately, Langley eventually caught up to McLean in the 45th point, and the first set ended 25-22 shortly after.

The second set didn’t go as well for McLean. Langley heavily utilized their outside Leni Stanton-Parker, sending a flurry of powerful spikes into the scrambling McLean defense. In response, Djutovic set up several strong blocks.

“I think Esma Djutovic stood out through her blocking,” Woods said. “ Langley has a good outside, and [Djutovic] was able to really shut her down a couple of times, as well as just slowing her down throughout the game.”

However, Djutovic’s blocks weren’t enough. Langley had a 6-2 lead by the 8th point, and didn’t look back. By the 25th point, Langley had widened the gap to 16-9. McLean pushed back with tempo, making it 15-18, but Langley then went on several small point streaks to close out the second set 25-18.

“[During the second set], I think they brought the intensity up by a couple of degrees, and we lost a couple of degrees of intensity,” head coach Samantha Stewart said.

Additionally, Langley’s serves improved during the second and third sets. While both teams lost several points in the first set to faulty serves, this was not the case for the remainder of the match.

Throughout the match, both teams scored strings of points that seemed to dictate the outcome of each set.

“In the second set, it was really just that one long serving run at the very beginning that did us in,” Woods said. “Even after we ended the run, it was like climbing an uphill battle for the rest of the set to try and make up the deficit.”

While McLean had a little more luck in the final set, it ultimately wasn’t enough. Langley started the set off with a massive 7-0 lead. McLean then went on several point streaks, and tied the set by the 18th point with a great block from Djutovic.

Throughout the match, Langley’s defense struggled, especially while returning serves.

“Serving was the most important thing in my opinion,” Woods said. “It prevented them from being able to run their offense, so we really tried to spot and serve their weaker passers.”

However, that didn’t stop their offense as well as McLean may have hoped. Langley took the lead for the rest of the match, ending the game with a strong spike from Stanton-Parker.

Despite taking the 3-0 loss, the McLean team performed surprisingly well, standing up to one of the most dominant teams in Virginia. While the final score was 3-0, each set was a narrow win for Langley. They attribute this to their mindset that they had going into the game.

“When you have a rivalry match, and it’s a team that has historically really kind of beaten up on you, it’s hard to keep your head right and kind of keep your shoulders up,” Stewart said. “I’m so proud of this team, not only for the fact that they’ve come really far with competing against a rival, but that they don’t view themselves as just innately less than [Langley]. They’ve really built [themselves] up mentally to stay in the game [and] maintain intensity.”

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