Tense showdown between RM and Poolesville varsity volleyball ends in RM win

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Ryan Choi

Following the success of the RM JV girls volleyball team in their opening match of the season, the varsity team stepped onto the court. After a warmup session, silence fell as their own opening match was about to begin.

The RM team struggled in the early stages of their match, trailing away at 14-23 to the Poolesville team. The impressive Poolesville play led to the Rockets’ loss of the first set, 17-25.

At 7:05 pm, the second set began. There were tense moments in the first few points of the second set, with both teams struggling to obtain a lead over the other. The Poolesville Falcons were intent to stay in the lead in terms of the set score, while the Rockets maintained focus to try to level the match. It was not until the combined efforts of the RM players to deliver a moving display of power and finesse into their serves and spikes, that the Rockets finally achieved their goal.

With their 9-6 lead in the second set, the score soon became 15-8. Many key mistakes from Poolesville resulted in the RM securing a foothold over the match, resulting in a set score of 1-1.

At around 7:40 pm, the third set had begun to a similar fashion as the second set. The Falcons went for a 3-0 lead. However, the Rockets soon fought back, edging the score to become 14-13 in their favor. Senior Pin-Hsuan Wu, made detrimental serves at times, along with “super freshman” Layla Rogers contributing with spikes to attempt to get whatever lead they could.

As some momentum returned to the Rockets, the score became 17-15, but to no avail, as the Rockets did not hold this lead. Some consequential mistakes on RM’s part, made the score 18-21 in Poolesville’s favor. At 20-23, confusion on the RM team resulted in yet another point being lost to Poolesville.

Momentum could not be held for either Poolesville or RM as more errors occurred during the tense showdown of the third set. At 23-24, with Poolesville serving for the set and a 2-1 lead, their serve missed and resulted in a 24-24 tie.

By this time in the match, the crowd was turning more and more raucous. At times, a group of very supportive students shouted with enthusiasm for RM to win the third set. However, a number of Poolesville cheerleaders had come to voice their support for the Falcons. Back and forth, both these groups’ cheers filled the tumultuous environment and lended to the ongoing heated battle.

As sophomore spectator Ethan Do exclaimed, “The atmosphere was crazy because we had a lot more people than usual. And whenever the Poolesville girls started to cheer, we started yelling, ‘We can’t hear you!’ It was intense.”

An interception on Roger’s part ended in a short-lived victory of the third set. The crowd entered in a frenzy mode during the changeover.

The beginning of the fourth set was just as tense as before. There were powerful starts by both teams, but the Falcons ended up winning the first two points. But as proved in the previous sets, the Rockets surged back to obtain a 14-9 lead. To consolidate that lead, the Rockets won the next three points for 17-9.

At 8:31 pm, the match was over with the final score as 25-18.

Reflecting on the match, Wu praised her team, specifically in the fourth set.

“I was pretty proud of my team. We were going for every ball we could,” she said. As for thoughts about future matches, Wu felt that she and her team “have the potential to win any game” if they have the “synergy and team bonding” like they did today.

The mentality present in yesterday’s match was one of a bit of nervousness in the first set, but as the match progressed, the Rockets demonstrated their composure and tenacity to win. “ [In the] first set we were kinda iffy, but that’s okay because I knew we could do it,” Wu pointed out.

Contributing to that mentality was Coach Gretchen Barber-Strunk. During timeouts and changeovers, she told her team “to be aggressive on the ball, and not to just be reacting on everything” and to “just keep running.”

The Rockets, as she puts it, “…found a rhythm that just couldn’t be matched. Poolesville has always made us battle, but the girls pushed through and came out,” she stated. “You should play to win like you want to win.”

The RM girls varsity volleyball team’s next game will be on September 7 at 6:30 pm against Springbrook High School.