Senior Night is a special ceremony for all the athletes of Richard Montgomery in their last year of playing sports for the school, and the girls varsity volleyball team was no exception.
Last Thursday, the Rockets faced the third team in the county, the Quince Orchard Cougars, in what was a highly a competitive matchup.
Before the game began, the seniors on the team were presented with gifts, posters, and flowers from the rest of the team. Each senior got her moment in the spotlight as the team celebrated her final year of playing volleyball. After all the festivities, the seniors took to the court as starters against the Cougars, as is tradition.
Both teams came out strong in the first set. The rallies were back and forth, with no clear advantage from either side. The score was never more than one point apart until the Rockets managed to pull ahead 14-12 after a few key aces and hits.
After a QO timeout, the Rockets seemed to have lost their momentum. Serving errors by RM as well as some sneaky quick hits from the Cougars allowed them to close the gap.
However, the Rockets bounced back, scoring consecutive points off of a few great digs that allowed them to close out the first set, 25-17. “Our seniors really pulled it off in the first set,” commented sophomore Laila Rogers.
The Rockets had a fantastic start to the second game and dominated QO with great movement on the court, propelling themselves to a 9-1 lead. The Cougars called another timeout, but RM continued their momentum and scored two consecutive points afterwards.
It seemed as if the girls had an insurmountable lead, but things quickly began to fall apart.
After a series of serve and receive errors from the Rockets, the Cougars scored six points in a row and lessened the gap to 11-7. Head Coach Gretchen Barber-Strunk called a timeout to gather their wits, but QO scored two more points before finally making a serving error.
The Rockets were not able to recoup after the timeout, losing six unanswered points to the Cougars off of miscommunication between the players. QO was able to mount the comeback from 11-1, finishing off the set 16-25. “The team struggled with communication the most,” said Rogers.
Going into the third game, the Rockets looked to recover from the previous one. Yet again, they had a strong start, pulling ahead 5-0 from skillful play at the net. A serving mistake gave the Cougars an opportunity to catch back up, but RM kept their momentum and had increased the lead to 14-7 when QO called a timeout.
Afterwards, the Rocket defense led the team, digging some big hits from the Cougars and setting the team up for success. The Rockets pulled ahead, up by 9 points.
The Rockets returned to the court after another QO timeout, but began struggling to make plays happen. “I think just functionality was our biggest issue, like just being able to execute,” reflected Barber-Strunk. These continued mistakes from the Rockets allowed the Cougars to close the gap, and Barber-Strunk called a timeout when the score was 22-19 before QO came in for the kill. The girls managed to regroup and finished off the set 25-21.
The fourth set started the off the same as the others, with the Rockets coming out with an early lead and the Cougars catching up almost immediately. “It was a really well-matched game in terms of talent on both sides,” said Barber-Strunk, commenting on the long rallies between the two teams.
The score remained tight throughout the game until the Cougars started running some quick hits from the middle. Getting the better of the Rockets, QO closed out the fourth set 22-25.
In the final game, tensions were high as both teams were fighting to take the victory. “It was awesome for the seniors,” said Barber-Strunk. “We have a great crew, and I wanted to win for them more than anything.”
The game was neck and neck, with no team gaining more than a two point advantage over the other throughout the entire game. Both teams seemed to be playing rather conservatively. “We played it safe on a couple of plays where we should’ve been swinging and we should’ve been hitting,” reflected Barber-Strunk.
The score was 11-12, and the Rockets called a timeout to hopefully relieve some of the pressure from the girls. Closely afterwards, when the score was 12-13, the Cougars called a timeout, knowing that the pressure was mounting for both teams. The Cougars got back on the court and scored another point, forcing the Rockets to call their final timeout. However, it wasn’t enough, and the Cougars took the final game, 13-15.
Despite dropping the final game, the team was not disappointed with the result. “I actually felt really good because our team in general did very well,” said Rogers. “It was a tight game. All the games were tight, and we did very well.”
The girls went on to win their first playoff game against Gaithersburg, and will continue their postseason against Northwest next week.