By Dan Sousa
Leesburg (Oct. 2, 2009) – With both the Loudoun Valley and Heritage volleyball teams sporting pink jerseys Thursday night it was hard to tell the Vikings from the Pride, but it was easy to tell the winner as the “Dig Pink” event met its goal of raising $5,000 for breast cancer research.
Heritage High School athletic director Ron Petrella said the school was donating the approximately $2,000 gate to the fundraiser and Pride coach Carmel Keilty said that t-shirt sales by both teams and other donations helped the fundraiser meet its ambitious goal.
“This is a great benefit and the girls enjoyed being part of it,” said Loudoun Valley coach Laird Johnson, who hosted a Dig Pink event last season against Langley.
Both teams met at center court after the match to take a group photo with the Viking players able to smile a little bit brighter after a AAA Cedar Run District straight set win, 25-23, 25-20, 25-16.
The win improved Loudoun Valley to 2-0 in district and 7-4 overall and dropped Heritage to 1-1 and 7-4.
“The Cedar Run is small with just eight district matches so every one is critical,” said Johnson.
In addition to the fundraiser and the Cedar Run bragging rights, it was also the renewal of a friendly volleyball rivalry -- the teams didn't meet last season -- between the two schools with Pride coach Carmel Keilty having left Valley in 2001 after capturing back-to-back state titles with the Vikes to start the Heritage program in 2002.
“This was kind of fun tonight,” said Keilty. “It was strange when we first played them after I left Valley but this is my home now. I love it here. I love the kids.”
Despite the sweep it was a close match with the first game back and forth. Heritage led 22-21 but the Vikes tightened their game and tied it at 23-23. Then senior Morgan Clark put the Vikes ahead with a kill and after a Pride-called time out, another Viking senior, Sarah Malsch ended the game with a kill.
The second game was tied 19-19 when Valley slowly pulled away junior Taylor Maddox and senior setter Nicole Bennett getting key kills. Bennett then found 6-foot senior Lindsey Phipps for some big kills. That had the Vikes and Phipps pumping their fists with joy.
“I love playing. I love getting really, really excited,” said Phipps.
Bennett said that the team had been looking forward to this match from the moment the schedule was released.
“We were pumped up to play them,” said Bennett, who has taking over the setter duties by herself after Johnson switched the LV offense from a 6-2 to a 5-1. “We are starting to click.”
Despite a huge Heritage student section, dressed in every pink combination this side of Miami, the Pride were not able to rally in the third game.
“We are up and down right now,” said Keilty who has been missing the services of injured sophomore starter Christina Kamis for a week.
Despite the loss, Keilty was able to smile as volleyball fans, clad in pink of course, stopped her in the hallway to congratulate her on the fundraiser.
“Dig Pink was for a good cause and it was huge that Valley participated,” said Keilty.
Stats from the match:
Valley: Attacks- Phipps 8 k (.428), Clark 8 k (.200), Bennett 5 k (.333) Hammer 4 k (.800),Malsh 4 k (.285). Assists- Bennett 34. Digs- Martin 18, Maddox 17, Brown 12.
Blocks- Phipps 5 assists (2.5 pts), Bland 3 assists (1.5pts).
Heritage: Bernett-10 kills, 2 blocks, 11 digs. Le Maitre- 3 kills. Thompson-6 kills. Young-3 kills.Yokoyama-26 assists, 11 digs. Beckwith-25 digs.