With a diverse attack Monday, the Patriot Pioneers began the 2019 volleyball season with a 3-0 victory over Hylton at home in Nokesville.
Senior Ashley Casey had 13 kills in the 25-10, 25-13, 25-14 victory with juniors Zahra Flowers and Nicole Epstein adding seven and six respectively. Senior Hannah Nugent finished with 18 assists and junior Makenna Alejo had nine.
Nugent and Casey are Patriot’s lone seniors, but the Pioneers have plenty of experience with five returning starters. The roster of second-year head coach Katie Swanson includes eight juniors, two sophomores and a freshman.
“We have an extremely talented group of girls, each with their own dynamic skill set,” Swanson said. “That has me [believing] that our potential is limitless.”
Casey was an all-region second-team hitter last season, while Patriot lost all-region first-team setter Samantha Carroll to graduation after the Pioneers finished with a 20-7 record and a 3-0 loss to Langley in the Class 6 Region D quarterfinals.
The Pioneers will begin their 2019 Cedar Run District schedule Sept. 17 against Osbourn as they try to win the regular season league championship for the third consecutive fall.
Against Hylton on Monday, junior Megan Wittenberg led Patriot’s defense with 12 digs.
“She’s one of the best liberos I’ve seen,” Swanson said of Wittenberg last season. “She can read the ball better than, I think, anybody in Northern Virginia. She’s able to ... pick up balls that you just wouldn’t think anybody else could.”
Wittenberg was an all-district second-team libero last season with Epstein on the first team as a middle blocker and Flowers on the second team as a right-side hitter. The Pioneers have a fifth returning starter in junior Nia James.
Osbourn field hockey 9, Gar-Field 0
Ivy Powell amassed four assists and two goals Monday to help the Osbourn Eagles beat Gar-Field’s field hockey team 9-0 on the road in Woodbridge during the teams’ season-opening games.
Gabriella Bustillo added three goals, while Lianty Yularnis and Karina Mata each had one goal and one assist. Adding one goal apiece were Bess Brown and Abby Urquillo. In goal, D.J. Holselaw recorded the shutout for Osbourn, while the Indians’ Katherine Machado had 10 saves.
More field hockey and volleyball
For many other Prince William County volleyball and field hockey teams, the 2019 season kicked off Monday.
Woodbridge's field hockey team began with a 4-0 home win over Potomac. Taylor Widmayer led the Vikings with two goals while Emma Bernbaum and Wen Chen scored one each.
Colgan's field hockey team defeated Osbourn Park 1-0 on the road in Manassas with Alexis Andrews-Thompson scoring the winning goal.
Osbourn Park's volleyball team recovered from a two-game deficit to defeat Colgan 3-2 after the Sharks finished last season as the Class 6 Region C champion. The Yellow Jackets rallied after losing 30-28 in an epic first game.
Battlefield's volleyball team beat Forest Park 3-0 at home in Haymarket, while the Bobcats' field hockey team defeated the Bruins 2-0. Also, Gar-Field's volleyball team beat Osbourn 3-1.