Forty-five minutes prior to its Sept. 13 match against Centreville, the Yorktown volleyball team huddled in the hallway outside of its home gymnasium and sang Lady Gaga’s "Bad Romance."
The Patriots were looking to maintain the energy they showed during a weekend tournament in Virginia Beach. Head coach Brittanie Behar said the team’s effort four hours from home was the "Best I’ve seen them play."
Whether the Patriots’ rendition of the popular tune was the catalyst for success is up for debate. But whatever worked for Yorktown in Virginia Beach appeared to carry over against the Wildcats. After a narrow game one victory, Yorktown improved as the match continued and beat Centreville 3-0 (26-24, 25-11, 25-16) to improve to 3-1 in the Northern Region.
Junior middle blocker Ashley Rock, the Patriots’ top offensive threat, recorded 63 kills in 15 games during the weekend tournament; a performance Behar said was "exactly what we need her to" do. Rock continued her strong play against the Wildcats, recording 22 kills in 29 attempts with just two hitting errors.
"We had a lot of energy [during the tournament] and we played really, really well — the best we’ve ever played since I’ve been in the program," Rock said. "We came in saying, ‘Yeah, we’re going to go [as] hard [against Centreville]. The first game we got our willies out and realized we needed to start kicking butt."
Rock said being the only team to travel four hours to reach the tournament might have helped bring the team together.
"I think our chemistry is really [strong] and it can only get stronger," she said. "I have high hopes for the season."
After Yorktown scored three consecutive points to end game one, Rock posted seven kills in a lopsided game two victory. Time after time she pounded well-placed sets onto the gym floor.
"I don’t think each team really got off to a great start," Centreville head coach Ken Moser said. "But [the Patriots] picked it up when they had to at the end of the game."
Sophomore outside hitter Katie Rock totaled 10 kills against Centreville after posting 31 in Virginia Beach. Junior setter Kaley Burlingame dished out 29 assists against the Wildcats and senior libero Taylor Brown had 10 digs.
Yorktown has three more non-district tune-ups (Jefferson, Lee, South County) before opening National District play on Sept. 27 against Washington-Lee. The Generals handed the Patriots their first district loss since 2007 in last year’s regular season finale. Yorktown faces defending district champion Hayfield on Oct. 18. The Patriots’ last district championship came in 2008.
"I’m confident going into all our district matches," Behar said.
She’s not the only one.
"Send a message to Hayfield," Ashley Rock said. "We’re coming for them."