The cameras were rolling, the energy was palpable and it felt like the annual Ludlowe vs. Warde girls volleyball match would be a battle.
Yet, Emily Nelson and the Falcons made sure it would be quick and easy.
Nelson recorded nine kills, four aces and four digs as the Falcons whitewashed the Mustangs 3-0 (25-16, 25-12, 25-11) on Monday at Ludlowe.
"There were a lot of nerves that could go either way," Ludlowe coach Meghan Skelton said. "I told them `this is going to be an intense match' ... and they used those nerves for positive energy."
"We definitely worked together as a team and we really wanted this," Lang said. "It was really nice that we all worked together."
"My girls were excited about this game," Warde coach Matt Narwold said. "They played with emotion and it's tough when you deal with emotion. You get excited and you get down and when you get down ... it's hard to build yourself back up again."
"I'm emotionally drained," Nelson said. "The energy is crazy."
With the game airing on local television and the gym buzzing with fans and students, the Falcons seized the match early behind Lang's serving. The junior-- who switched to libero from outside hitter before the Falcons' last match with Greenwich-- recorded services runs of three and five in game one.
"She's great as our libero," Nelson said of Lang. "She's a great player."
"She's been developing a real consistency in the back row," Ludlowe coach Meghan Skelton said.
The latter run lifted the Falcons' advantage from 18-13 to 23-13 as Ludlowe took game one 25-16.
Lang's service run in game two also set the mark for the Falcons, giving Ludlowe an 8-4 advantage early. Nelson and Rotondo took over game two late, with Nelson recording two kills and an ace. The Falcons clinched game two 25-12 on Jennifer Elsaesser's kill.
"Emily Nelson is a phenomenal player," Narwold said. "She did a fantastic job. They set her and she can hit it anywhere on the court."
Nelson's three aces in game three helped the Falcons build a 15-9 lead, and Casey Boatwright recorded six straight service points with two aces.
"When (Boatwright and Lang) are on serving, it helps us go so much better," Nelson said. "We're so confident."