Williamsburg, VA (November 16, 2018) – On paper, and as they warmed up prior to the playing of this championship, it was difficult to tell these two teams apart. Both were 27-1 coming into the match, and both were wearing their navy blue uniforms. The gold numbers of the Loudoun County Raiders, and the red of the Grafton Clippers, were the only distinguishing marks.
Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.
When the match began, the Clippers were on fire. Fueled by their raucous fans who made the short trip from Yorktown, they dominated the early going. Becca Hallingstad was the big hitter, but she was not alone as her team played fluid offense and defense. The Raiders, as cool as their traditional player introductions, were down as they lost the first set, 25-14, but they were not flustered. Yes, Grafton's margin of victory would prove to be the largest of the entire match, but County was poised and ready to go as the second set commenced.
With the Raiders' Megan Bukala and Ashley Rubino punishing the ball with authority, the Clippers' fortunes were immediately reversed. Loudoun County jumped out quickly with five straight points and set a tone that was emblematic of the rest of the day, winning the second set, 25-15.
Grafton never gave up hope and never ceased giving maximum effort. Their enthusiastic fans continued to drown out the small but hearty contingent of Loudoun County travelers, but none of that energy could slow down the Raider roll.
By the time the third set ended, 25-16, it was all but over. The Raiders' libero and spirit leader, Josi Williams, nearly jumped out of the arena with excitement as the championship grew ever closer. At 2-1 in sets, all they had to do was keep their composure and end the season with another VHSL trophy for the case.
The Clippers showed why they deserved their shot at the title. Every point of the fourth and final set set was well-contested even when it became apparent that the County momentum was too much to overcome. Although Grafton lost the final set, 25-16, it would be inaccurate to say anyone lost this match. Better to say that Loudoun County--for the seventh straight time and eleventh in twelve--won it all.
Final score: Loudoun County 3 - Grafton 1
|Players who could be clearly identified by jersey number are listed in the links below. Additional photos of these and other players may be viewed and purchased in the full gallery.|