The Yorktown volleyball team limped over the regular season finish line on Oct. 28 against Washington-Lee. The Patriots lost their best player, senior outside hitter Elyse Bush, to a season-ending knee injury, and then lost the match --- their first National District loss since 2007.
Afterward, Yorktown head coach Brittanie Behar voiced her displeasure, saying, despite the loss of Bush, the Patriots let one slip away.
“We can beat teams like Washington-Lee without Elyse,” the coach said.
The Patriots spent Wednesday night proving their coach correct.
In a rivalry rematch, top-seeded Yorktown defeated No. 5 Washington-Lee 3-1 (25-17, 20-25, 25-16, 25-17) during the semifinals of the National District Tournament at Yorktown High School. The Patriots host district-newcomer Hayfield, the No. 2 seed, at 7 p.m. today in the championship match.
Middle blocker Ashley Rock led Yorktown with 25 kills. While the sophomore played well enough to earn first-team all-district honors during the 2009 season, she came through with one of her most dominant performances when it mattered most --- in the postseason with Bush on the bench.
“I was just really pumped up for this game,” Rock said. “I just wanted to win really bad, especially since we lost to them last week. We weren’t going to lose again.”
Rock’s kills were a mixture of power and placement. She followed several points with an intense, enthusiastic display.
“She, over the season, has gotten much more aggressive, which we need,” Behar said. “And we really need leadership development and I think she’s doing a really good job with that.”
After the teams split the first two games, Yorktown (14-6) seized momentum midway through game three. Trailing 13-12, a kill by Courtney Duran sparked a 13-3 Patriots run to close the game. Rock had five kills and an ace during the tide-turning surge.
The teams were tied at 13 in game four when a Duran kill sparked another Yorktown run. This time, the Patriots scored eight of the next nine points to take a commanding 21-14 lead.
Duran finished with six kills.
Malaika Bain-Peachey tallied nine kills while filling in for Bush. Bain-Peachey, a junior who was on JV last season, will play a key role in determining how far Yorktown advances in the postseason.
“They were huge shoes to fill,” Bain-Peachey said of Bush. “I didn’t think I was ready but I knew I had to step forward and step my game up and put more effort in. I was scared at first, but I felt like I need to push myself … because the team sort of fell apart after she hurt herself. I felt like I needed to step my game up a lot.”
Middle blocker Aliya Winker led Washington-Lee (7-12) with 13 kills. First-team all-district selection Rebecca Jones had 12 kills.
“I think we were up and down,” Washington-Lee head coach Rebecca Baltare said. “We had points where we showed how [good we can be], what we worked on all season. And then there were points where we beat ourselves.”
Yorktown will attempt to win its third district championship in four seasons under Behar when it takes on Hayfield. The Patriots swept the Hawks during the teams’ Sept. 24 meeting at Hayfield Secondary School.