What was different about the sixth region volleyball championship won in program history by the Langley Saxons? The girls high-school team won this season’s 2020-21 title match on its home court for the first time.
“I don’t think I even realized that,” said Langley coach Susan Shifflett, who has been Langley’s only coach, starting the program in 1999.
Langley (11-1) defeated the defending-champion Washington-Liberty Generals, 3-1, in the April 16 final of the 6D North Region Tournament. The Saxons were 3-0 overall in the tourney, each match at home after a first-round bye.
The first five were won on neutral courts or at a higher seed.
In that April 16 final, Langley lost the first set, 25-22, then won the next three – 25-8, 25-20, 25-12.
“I don’t know what it is. But every time we play them, we lose the first set,” Shifflett said of W-L. “So it was ‘here we go again.’ We made a minor change, stayed with what we do and started playing better and eliminating unforced mistakes and silly errors.”
Langley was led by middle hitters Ceren Mert and Ijenna Mere, hitter Nina Kernan, setter Katie Westerheim, Lauren Sung, Abbey Stewart, Erica Maebius and others.
“They all picked up their play and we really had it going in the final set,” Shifflett said.
Langley defeated Washington-Liberty (9-6) in two close regular-season matches. In the previous (2019) season, the Generals defeated Langley in district-and region-tournament play. The meeting in the April 16 region final was the seventh in two seasons between the teams.
After a first-rund bye, Langley defeated Chantilly, 3-2, in the 2020-21 region semifinals and Madison, 3-0, in the quarterfinals.
After leading 9-6, Langley trailed Chantilly, 12-10, in the deciding seesaw fifth set, eventually winning 15-13. Chantilly handed Langley its only defeat during the regular season, when the Saxons were missing some key players for that match.
“We stepped up when we had to and we had a good mindset in the match,” Shifflett said about defeating Chantilly in the semifinals.
Next for Langley is the four-team Virginia High School League’s Class 6 state tournament, a competition the Saxons have participated in nine times and have won twice, the last time in 2017.
Langley was scheduled to play the T.C. Williams Titans of Alexandria in a first-round match. The Titans won the 6C region tournament.