SPRINGDALE – A battle between two of the better volleyball teams in Prince George’s County didn’t really turn into much of a fight, as Charles H. Flowers High School swept Oxon Hill in three matches on Oct. 18 in a game that didn’t see the best of either side.
Flowers (10-3) easily took the first two sets, and then struggled down the stretch in the third before pulling out a 25-23 win and securing the sweep. Senior Janiya Brooks led the Lady Jaguars with seven kills and chipped in four aces. Tyler Thomas paced all players with six aces, three of which came as part of a 6-0 run to put the second set out of reach.
Head Coach Jeff Ware’s squad bounced back from a loss to Roosevelt earlier in the week, putting together a performance that wasn’t flawless, but enough to get the victory.
“It was steady, we did what we needed to do to win,” Ware said. “They’re kinda tough; when we’ve played Oxon Hill in the past it’s always been a really tough game.”
The shutout appeared to be in doubt late in game three, as Oxon Hill put together a 6-0 run to claw back to a 22-20 deficit. Ware had taken a timeout during the stretch in an attempt to quell the Lady Clippers and was forced to use another when they pushed the score to 24-23.
“I tried to settle them down a little bit and tell them to focus,” Ware said. “Most of the time it’s fundamentals…We needed just want point at the end, to focus and attack and just get it done.”
The Jaguars came out of the break and immediately went to Brooks for the game winner, and she put it away between a pair of diving Lady Clippers. The captain had a slow first two games until putting together five kills and three aces in the third, included two spikes to end the late Oxon Hill run prior to her match-ending kill.
Brooks and fellow senior captain Tampa January did what they could to take Ware’s words to game action, there to help teammates when they failed and keeping the team mentally in the game.
“For me it’s just about focusing, and trying to focus on my technique and encouraging my teammates at the same,” Brooks said. “It’s just a big part of being a captain and a leader on the floor.”
Oxon Hill (9-1) never seemed to get going, with each instance of momentum quickly snuffed out by a serve into the net or a pass out of bounds. The Jaguars finished with 17 service errors and games one and two both ended on errant passes. The team had one fewer service error than Flowers in the third game, a driving factor in their comeback bid. After a spike by Brooks forced a carry to make it 22-14, Oxon Hill played a clean game from there and outscored Flowers 9-3, but it came a bit too late.
“Just too many errors,” said Oxon Hill Head Coach Alva Amaker. “That’s been an issue all season, giving 10-16 points on errors. When you match up with a team that’s not gonna make as many errors, it’s gonna be a game of who makes the fewer amount of errors, and that’s what that was.”
Mossi Staples carried the Lady Jaguars’ offense with six kills and four aces, leading the charge during the 6-0 run in game three. Princess Robinson finished with three kills, three aces and a block, with her defense helping to slow down Brooks early on. Cameron Wright added five kills, though she had plenty of chances and couldn’t seem to get on the same page with her setters.
Oxon Hill had scrimmaged Flowers before the season started and Amaker was concerned by her team’s “raggedy” performance, but said the Clippers showed plenty of improvement in the regular season affair. Similar to Ware, Amaker said playing Flowers is always a good challenge and the two teams match up well, with the main difference being mental in this meeting.
“As we go into the playoffs, we have to work that part of our game,” Amaker said. “The mental tenacity, trying to let go of the errors a little bit sooner.”