2022.11.08 Volleyball: VHSL 5D Championship, Massaponax @ Riverside

Lansdowne, VA (November 8, 2022) - The Massaponax Panthers and the Riverside Rams have a lot in common. They both entered the regional tournament as district champions, and they both have played Independence and Briar Woods. Riverside played each of them twice in the regular season and once each in the Dulles District tournament--winning all six matches. Massaponax had to beat them on their way to the championship, which they did easily, 3-1 and 3-0, respectively.

The two teams have already qualified for the state tournament, but a win would mean a higher seed and the chance to host a quarterfinal match. This one had all of the potential to be a thriller.

Chas Sumser Photography was there to capture the action and emotion and posted a gallery of images from the game.

SUMMARY

The match lived up to the hype and then some. Riverside took the first set, 27-25, but Massaponax took the next two sets and had all of the momentum heading into the fourth. Seemingly out of it, the Rams bounced back and forced a fifth set. The Panthers dominated the rest of the way and captured the region championship, but the celebration was muted when player of the match, Carlie Clements, hit the winning shot and then fell to the floor with an injury.

Set 1: Riverside 27 - Massaponax 25 (1-0)

The intense first set went back and forth with both teams surging more than once. Clements was the leading power hitter for the Panthers while Adriana Perodin did the same for the Rams. Riverside led by five points, 20-15, yet, remarkably, Massaponax took their first lead at 25-24. But, the Panthers simply could not respond to a late three-point serving run from Riverside's Lauren Sateri to close out the set.

Set 2: Massaponax 25 - Riverside 23 (1-1)

The second set was equally mesmerizing and the momentum swings were more dramatic. The Rams opened up a huge 15-6 lead, but the Panthers slowly clawed their way back into the set. The turning point came when Carley Coghill came up with a huge block for Massaponax, narrowing the Ram margin to 21-18. From that point Regan Shanahan added a big kill and a solid serving run to give the Panthers the come-from-behind win.

Set 3: Massaponax 25 - Riverside 21 (2-1)

Just like in the first set, one team led most of the way, lost the lead late, and then reestablished themselves to close it out. This time the victor was Massaponax. Opening up their biggest lead of the whole night, the Panthers led 10-3 before the Rams got going. Riverside trailed 11-10 when Massaponax was forced to call a timeout. And that tactic worked temporarily for the Panthers as they extended their lead to 15-10. With Natalie Carlin serving well--and a big block from Simone Schaefer--Riverside had their first lead, 17-16. But Clements took over again and led the resurgent Panthers to the set win.

Set 4: Riverside 25 - Massaponax 20 (2-2)

Now with the overall lead, Massaponax opened up a quick 4-0 lead, but Riverside gradually shifted the momentum of the match their way and vaulted to a 20-10 lead. The Rams' Ava Ray was the serving star during that run, and, while the Panthers would close the gap, Riverside refused to relinquish the lead.

Set 5 Massaponax 15 - Riverside 9 (3-2)

As often happens in the deciding set, the Panthers jumped to a 4-2 lead, and never looked back. Clements was owning the net, and Riverside was forced into timeouts trailing 7-4 and 10-5. But the Rams could not stall the Panthers' momentum as Massaponax captured the match, the region title, and a home game in the state quarterfinal.

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