- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On Thursday evening, the La Plata High School gymnasium was a playoff-like atmosphere as the Warriors took on a familiar Southern Maryland Athletic Conference foe, Northern.
With an anticipated crowd on hand, La Plata surged out to a two games to none lead, but Northern roared back to tie the match up a 2.
In Game 5, La Plata took leads of 9-5 and 13-8 and junior middle blocker Maggie Lavery later capped off the night with a vicious point in form of a kill to help the Warriors come away with a victory in five games, 25-21, 28-26, 25-27, 24-26 and 15-11.
With the win, La Plata (5-0, 4-0 SMAC) remained unbeaten and took on host Lackey on Tuesday, a match that finished too late for inclusion into this edition. It will come back home for a match against Leonardtown at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
After Lavery’s big point, she received hugs from teammates, coaches and parents as the gym went into a frenzy after a thriller.
“This has been a rivalry for a few years now,” said Lavery, who was a force at the net with 12 kills and eight blocks for the match. “Calvert County teams are always tough and Northern really fought hard. On that last kill, I just had a lot of adrenaline. I wanted to finish strong for the team. This was a big win for us, our toughest game so far.”
In the previous five matches, La Plata had swept every opponent in three games. Thursday, it was tested for the first time this season.
“The girls gave up some runs in the first two games, but we earned those points back in the next two sets,” Northern head coach Beth Radford said. “We gained some confidence after the second set, and that was a turning point for us. Our middle blockers really adjusted to what La Plata did as the match went on.”
When asked if she was surprised that the Patriots forced a Game 5, La Plata head coach Catherine Lavery noted how she felt.
“Absolutely not,” the head coach said as her team has defeated the Patriots for the Class 3A South Region title the last two seasons. “I felt very confident that we could finish it in three, but that’s Northern, they’ve took us to five sets in the past and it’s always a battle. I love their setter [Jess Ward], she is amazing. Maggie started connecting towards the end, she’s been playing solid. Our defense really buckled down in that final game. In the third and fourth sets, Northern kept fighting and had the momentum, they’re a great group of competitors.”
Maggie Lavery was not alone as the offensive catalyst as junior outside hitter Faith Laidley put her stamp on the match with 10 kills and sophomore Desiree Proffitt added six kills.
“The team really helps me out and our setter [Heidi Rottman] makes very good passes,” Laidley said. “Northern is amazing. I expected them to make a push, we made some mistakes in the third and fourth sets, but we prepared all week for Northern. Our determination really helped us close out the match.”
“That was the best game that Faith has ever played,” Catherine Lavery said. “Faith brought a lot of energy and finished at the net.”
Defensive specialists Julie Huber and Emily Subocz were key sparks in the win, helping to keep balls off the ground.
“I feel relieved, Northern always pushes us to five games,” Huber said. “I’m overwhelmed with joy right now. We let our momentum down after the first two games, but in the fifth set, we came together and had a lot of energy with the crowd behind us.”
Northern had La Plata on the ropes in Game 2 despite the loss and took that momentum into the next two games. In Game 3, there were 16 ties and 13 lead changes as Northern senior middle blocker Qyntia Parks-Lewis registered two consecutive blocks to catapult the Patriots to the two-point win. Parks-Lewis finished with six solo blocks.
Northern senior outside hitter Molly Anadale, who had a team-high 10 kills and added 10 digs in the match, capped off Game 4 with a hard shot over the net.
Senior Naomi Underwood had 17 digs and seven kills, while junior Lauren Nisson and Ward (19 assists, 7 digs) each had five kills and defensive specialist Kelly DePaulo recorded 20 digs.
Northern (3-4, 3-2) hosted Patuxent on Tuesday, a match that also finished too late for inclusion into this edition, and will be at Westlake at 5:30 p.m. today.
La Plata 3, Northern 2
Northern 21 26 27 26 11
La Plata 25 28 25 24 15