Two undefeated volleyball teams in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference squared off on Thursday night at Leonardtown High School and only one would remain unbeaten moving forward after the La Plata Warriors battled the hosting Raiders.
“Going in we knew it was going to be a battle regardless with both teams being undefeated,” Warriors head coach Ashley Buchanan said. “[Leonardtown] had pretty much an unchanged team from last year.”
After dropping the opening set of the crossover match, La Plata (6-0 overall) was able to battle back and earn a four-set victory by scores of 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 27-25.
“I think we pulled through together as a team really good,” Warriors senior Samantha Falenfoa said. “I think this was the best game we have played. Our passes and offense was really good. I think we had really good connections all around.”
In the first set, Leonardtown (5-1) raced out to an early lead and an ace from senior Maddie Argobright put the hosts in front 16-12.
Buchanan called a timeout with La Plata trailing 18-13 in the opening set. Back-to-back kills from senior Jayci Chamberlain pulled the Warriors to within three points trailing 22-19 before the Raiders closed out the first set with three consecutive points.
“Two great teams played and both teams left it all on the floor,” Leonardtown head coach Steve Correll said. “Unfortunately, we came out on the losing end, but I am proud of every one of my girls. They fought until the very end and that is what the coaches want to see.”
The Warriors were able to race out to early leads in the second and third sets and wanted to close out the win in four sets without having to play a deciding fifth set to 15 points.
“I was telling our girls that we didn’t want to go to a fifth set with this team,” Buchanan said. “If we went to a fifth set with this team, it could have been a totally different outcome than it was. So between the errors on their side and us coming together, we were able to pull it out.”
Early on in the fourth set, both teams battled for the advantage. La Plata earned a 3-1 lead on back-to-back aces by junior Maddie Slattery, but the Raiders tied the score at 7 on an ace from junior Elizabeth Matthews.
“We had to keep our mindset up and no matter what the game is never over until a team hits 25 points really,” Falenfoa said. “I’m glad we pulled through and we kept positive.”
Leonardtown led the fourth set 21-17, but an ace from Falenfoa cut the deficit in half to 21-19 before La Plata evened up the score at 21.
“Overall, our girls stuck together emotionally and started passing the ball in the second and third sets and were able to get the ball down,” Buchanan said. “As long as we were getting the ball to Sam, we were being successful.”
The Raiders led 24-23 but were unable to force a fifth set as the Warriors battled back to take the match 27-25 in the fourth.
“We have to get better,” Correll said. “We made a couple of errors, but overall I am very pleased. [La Plata] is a good team. They are strong, but we will be alright. The sun comes up tomorrow.”
La Plata is scheduled next to host Lackey at 5:30 p.m. Friday, while Leonardtown is slated to be at Northern at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.