Rockets and Raiders Advance to Maryland State Finals
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At Churchill High School they played a class 4 double header. Two semi-final state games. My class 4 preseason pick for the State championship Richard Montgomery advanced to the finals, as did the Leonardtown Raiders for Class 3. I did…
At Churchill High School they played a class 4 double header. Two semi-final state games. My class 4 preseason pick for the State championship Richard Montgomery advanced to the finals, as did the Leonardtown Raiders for Class 3. I did not make a Class 3 prediction.
The Raiders had to go against the defending state champions the Urbana Hawks. While they had lost a few players to graduation (Logan Burge, Claire Thompson and Julia Gustafson) and transfers () they still had a solid season at 17-5. Not a lot was known about Leonardtown except their 11-2 record with both of those losses coming against Northern. The Raiders definitely showed a height advantage. They had three players over 6 foot. Urbana had no rostered player over 5’9″.
Urbana won the first set 25-22. The Hawks lost an 18-12 lead oncecompleted a kill to tie it 22-22. A net serve gave Urbana the lead again and a Natalia Johnson ace put them within one point of victory. A hitting error by the Raiders gave the Hawks the win.
The second set saw Leonardtown jump out to a commanding 14-7 lead. This time Urbana put together a comeback,stringing up a couple ace serves to make it 14-11. Urbana eventually tied the game at 16-16, assisted by Leonardtown missing three consecutive serves. The Raiders 6’2″ middle contributed a big block setting up a back row kill for to end the set 25-20.
Set three was again close until anotherblock extended the Raiders lead to 20-18. appeared to sail a ball out but it became a kill when the line judge signaled the ball was touched. , who at 5’9″ was one of the Hawks tallest players buried a ball in front of the three meter line to put the Hawks to within one at 22-23, but a missed serve followed giving another opportunity to end the game with a roll shot kill into the “4” zone for a Raiders 25-22 victory.
The final set found Urbana escaping a 16-16 tie courtesy of four Leonardtown errors to make it 20-16.brought them back again with a kill and ran up seven consecutive points with her serve to give the Raiders a 24-20 lead. After an Urbana sideout again ended the game for the third consecutive match with a kill. The 6’0″ senior has committed to Akron to play lacrosse. The Akron volleyball coach may want to take a look at her.
The second match Richard Montgomery swept Reservoir.led the Rockets with 16 kills and 15 assists. No kills were bigger than her last three to finish set one. Reservoir battled with middles and 6’3″ Gabby Prather, along with 6’0″right side putting up blocks and providing the offense to overcome a 14-9 deficit to take a 22-21 lead. An kill tied the game at 22-22 and gave the Rockets the serve. Ema ended the game with two kills punching in the last two points for a 25-22 win.
While the score for set two finished 25-19, the Gators hung with the Rockets at 14-14 until anblock gave the Rockets the serve. The frosh brought out the chants “she’s a freshman” with hard and soft serves, producing three aces and five points to extend the lead to 20-14. The Rockets iced the game after that winning 25-19.
The third set was all Rockets withshowing her athleticism with a couple blocks and kills. Corrine tied for the team lead with 6’0″ setter for blocks at 4. The large contingent of Rocket fans again began chanting “She’s a freshman” after deposited a few balls to the floor. The Rockets ultimately cruised to a 25-17 third set win.
Other Maryland Playoff Results
In class 3 action, last year’s class 4 runner up Arundel advanced to the finals with a four set win over Glenelg. The drop in class did not impact their style of play. They went undefeated, even achieving wins over Class four semi-finalists Urbana and Reservoir during the season. The Wildcats offense is led by right side, left side and middle . Setter dishes out the sets while the Swinton little sister starts off the offense with the pass. The Wildcats go into the finals 24-0.
They will be playing last year’s class 3 champ North Hagerstown. The Hubs won in four sets over the previously undefeated Northern. Two of the wins by Northern had been against Class 4 finalist Leonardtown. Conversely the Hubs have only two losses, one to Virginia Class 4 state champion James Wood and the other to Urbana, who they also beat twice. The Hubs rely onand to provide much of their offense.
Class 2 will see Calvert play Centennial, led byhitting outside.
Virginia Playoff Action
For my Virginia preseason State champion picks in Classes 4-6, all three have reached the finals. Langley, Riverside and James Wood have advanced. I would have picked Hidden Valley to win class 3. They have also advanced to the finals to face Grafton, who has yet to win a championship but has finished ias runner’s up eight times. I did not preview classes below four.
Langley won an epic battle over Colonial Forge 26-24, 31-33, 24-26, 25-18 and 17-15. Based on the scores that had to be the match of the year. It will be interesting to see how motivated the Saxons play on Friday. Sometimes, after an emotional game like that it is tough for a team to bounce back. For other teams, especially after being down 2 sets to one like Langley they could be loaded with confidence going into the finals. They have the offensive weapons inand the recent Michigan commit , along with setter and right side . Any of those four could bring a wave of offense to the match. The last time Langley appeared in the State championship was in 2017, when they won it all.
Langley will play Battlefield, who beat the Saxons nemesis Madison in four 23-25, 25-23, 25-19 and 28-26. The fact three of the four sets were decided by two points is evidence this match also carried a wave of intensity. Battlefield has their own emotions to contend with before the match. Starting the season 0-3 and now finding themselves in the finals of the state championship is a huge statement on their ability to bounce back from adversity. Middle, who ended the match with a kill is their offensive leader, but pin hitters and can also do some damage. This roster is filled with seniors who have been playing together for a long time.
In Class 5 action, Riverside clashed with Riverbend. Instead of taking five sets to overcome Riverbend this time the Rams just needed four sets to notch the victory. Riverside has a mixture of seniors (, and ) and juniors ( and ) that provide a veteran presence. After losing a tough first set to Riverbend 25-23, they regrouped and won the next three 25-20, 25-19 and 25-18 to remain undefeated.
Their opponent in the finals will be First Colonial, who last year made it to the finals before losing to Midlothian. The Patriots swept past a talented Kellam team. They have a trio of seniors in left side, setter and libero who can get the job done. The only loss for First Colonial this season has been to Colonial Forge.
Finally, in Class 4 action James Wood will play Hanover. The Colonels swept past Blacksburg. Last year when they won the championship their two frosh outside hittersand led them to victory. These two will be sophomores now, so another year of experience should make the Colonels tough to beat. Senior setters and can also lend their experience.
After winning their first two sets pretty easily, Hanover had to win the fifth set 15-10 to avoid a reverse sweep. Don’t know too much about their roster other than right side, but it will be fun to watch their team play for the first time.
Class 3 will see Hidden Valley go against Grafton. The Titanswill duel it out with the Clippers left side to see who will win the duel of the outsides. Don’t sleep on , who led the Titans in kills in the semi-final match with 18.