The Calvert Cavaliers volleyball team has its eyes set on two prizes this postseason.
Calvert is one step away from conquering the first prize after defeating Marriotts Ridge in four games on Wednesday night at Calvert Middle School in the Class 2A South Region semifinals, moving to tonight’s prize match for the region championship for the chance to continue playing for the second prize, a state championship.
The top-seeded Cavaliers got past 12th-seeded Marriotts Ridge by scores of 25-22, 25-23, 22-25 and 25-19 to win the region semifinal match and will host second-seeded Glenelg at 6 tonight at Calvert Middle for the region title.
Glenelg of Howard County defeated third-seeded Patuxent in four games in the other region semifinal Wednesday night.
Due to construction at Calvert High, the Cavaliers have been playing their matches this season at Calvert Middle.
In Game 1, Calvert (13-1 overall) was up by a margin of six at one point until Alina Pacione of Marriotts Ridge served six straight points for the visitors and Calvert senior Lauren Carman’s push went into the net and the game was tied for the first time at 19. Calvert senior Karli Hawxhurst came back strong to serve the final winning points.
Smith said coming from behind wasn’t too nerve-wracking.
“One of our goals each match is to be the first to reach 5, 10, 15 points,” Smith said. “I feel like we play strong enough to work ourselves out of a jam now and then.”
Game 2 went to the Cavaliers after being tied up 10 times. Calvert senior middle blocker Kara Collins was strong at the net and consistent at the serving line, while junior outside hitter Rachel Hornick mixed things up with her powerful kills and Carman continued to set her teammates up the way she’s done all season.
Ultimately, the game went to the Cavaliers when Carman’s push was successful, leaving Marriotts Ridge libero Julie Dixon diving for the ball.
“I was excited all day, just sitting in class really anxious,” Carman said. “Coach told me before the game that it looked like I had a lot of fire and for me to control my emotions. They were really scrappy and they had really good defense. We had to just focus on playing every ball. The middle of the court was open [in Game 2], so I thought I might as well attack.”
Carman said in her early days of playing for Smith she used to tip too much so she learned to only tip when she knew she could score on it.
“Today, I started tipping more and he [Smith] said, ‘Don’t abuse your power,’” Carman said, smiling.
Marriotts Ridge (9-8) claimed Game 3 with a ball that hit the back line for game point and Dana Koehler found an empty spot in the middle of the court to force a Game 4.
“They were excited to get the chance to play them again,” Marriotts Ridge head coach Amanda Olsen said. “We were as ready and as confident as we could. In these situations, it’s do or die; you lose the game, your season’s over and they won in the regional final game last year and so we had a little bit of motivation to not let that happen again. We pushed back tonight in every game, so they played with a lot of heart.”
Some communication issues, control issues and trouble at the net in Game 4 put Calvert behind the eight-ball, but they bounced back with some powerful kills from Hornick and a couple aces from Hawxhurst and Meghan Lanham. Defensive specialist Alyssa Osburn risked it all at times to win points.
Hornick said that when her team has the fire and spark to come back from being down, they tap into it, but there are times when they get into a slump.
“We played them last year for the regional finals, so we all thought it was going to be a good game,” Hornick said. “After that first set, we had a feeling for where their weaker spots were and their stronger spots.”
Glenelg 3, Patuxent 1
The Panthers saw their season come to an end Wednesday night by scores of 22-25, 21-25, 25-22 and 13-25.
“This was a match that featured hard hitting on both sides of the court and excellent defense,” Patuxent head coach Kevin Keller said. “It was a defensive battle with neither side giving any quarter. Both sides of the court saw hard hit after hard hit being returned back over the net and featured long rallies.”
Junior middle hitter Madison Scott and junior setter Sarah Nepini both led the team in serving with 98 percent, with Scott adding four blocks and junior middle hitter Sabrina Roberts had two blocks.
Junior outside hitter Chanel Underwood had 12 kills, while co-captain and senior outside hitter Shaelynn Schmidt led the team in kills with 14. Junior right-side hitter Megan Wentz led Patuxent with four aces and added five kills.
The Panthers finished the season at 12-4 overall, 10-2 in SMAC.
“Our girls fought hard till the end as they have done all year,” Keller said. “Two of our goals were to fight hard and to improve every match. We accomplished those goals. That is what I love about this team, their heart, their resiliency and their never-say-die attitude. They are a great group of girls and it will be very hard to say goodbye to these seniors. I'm still not ready for that."