Earlier this week the Huntingtown High School volleyball team made two trips to distant Harford Community College in Bel Air seeking to put the finishing touches on perhaps the most successful season the program has ever enjoyed.

On Wednesday evening, two days after sweeping Bel Air in the second 3A state semifinal, Huntingtown (17-3) was upended by Reservoir High School of Howard County in the 3A finals. On a night when the Hurricanes spent most of the match facing an uphill battle, the Gators (18-1) notched their second state crown courtesy of a 25-18, 25-16, 20-25, 25-19 victory over Huntingtown.

“I’m above proud of these girls,” said Huntingtown volleyball coach Danesha Gross. “They battled so hard, even when we were down two games to none. They never quit. We made a few adjustments that third set, but their hitters were really tough to block. Our girls battled so hard the whole way — they never gave up.”

Each of the first two sets developed along similar lines, with Reservoir able to break open a close contest nearing the midway point in each set. The Gators closed the first set on a prolonged 16-9 run and then finished the second on an 8-1 run courtesy of a long service run from Madison Hill. Gators’ outside hitter Samiha Foster was the primary source of the Hurricanes difficulty, however, hitting over and through blocks.

Huntngtown avoided the sweep by taking the third set as brief services runs from Alyssa Nuthall, Megan Hollinshead and Gabrielle Decesaris gave the Hurricanes a 20-12 lead. Reservoir climbed back to within 20-17, but the Hurricanes finished that set strongly to briefly keep their hopes alive of a state crown when Grace Sawyer set Hollinshead for a game point kill.

Reservoir regained control of the match during the early portion of the fourth set when Haley Ko embarked on a service run that propelled the Gators to a 10-5 lead and later another from Lexi Lee pushed the advantage to 16-9. A kill by Nuthall off a Sawyer set gave the Hurricanes hope and that was followed by two straight service winners from Nuthall, although the Gators were content to trade side-out points down the stretch.

“I thought we played really well that third set,” said Nuthall, her voice raspy from constant shouting to her teammates throughout the match. “I think we just came out a little jittery. Once we got into running our attack we were really good. It was amazing just to get to this point. This was our goal from the first day of practice.”

Three days after sweeping Baltimore Polytechnic in a 3A state quarterfinal match, the Huntingtown High volleyball team ventured to Harford County on Monday for a state semifinal match against Bel Air. Huntingtown took the first two sets handily, but the Hurricanes had to display considerable grit in the third en route to sweeping the Bobcats, 25-19, 25-11 and 27-25.

“All season long we’ve talked about getting to this point,” Huntingtown senior setter Grace Sawyer said. “I have so many good hitters in my arsenal. I knew we just had to stay patient and keep running our plays. Even when we fell behind that third set, we just focused on making good passes and getting the ball to our hitters.”

Huntingtown earned the right to face Reservoir in Wednesday’s 3A state final, also at Harford Community College. Reservoir had upended North Hagerstown in five sets. The Gators won the first two sets, but the Hubs rallied for force a fifth-set tie-breaker by taking the next two games.

In each of the first two sets against Bel Air, Huntingtown embarked on runs with either Sawyer or libero Jenna Catlett serving and the Bobcats did not have an answer. Bel Air, however, looked poised to avoid the sweep when the Bobcats forged an 18-11 lead before the Hurricanes rallied from that deficit and later a 24-21 hole to prevail 27-25 to sweep the previously unbeaten Bobcats.

While both Huntingtown and Leonardtown parlayed their region titles into trips to the state semifinals, the Calvert volleyball team was upended by host Century High in four sets last Friday. Two days after sweeping Patuxent, which came on the heels of a dramatic, five-set victory over La Plata after dropping the first two sets, the Cavaliers’ season came to an end at Century.

Twitter: @TedSoMdNews

Twitter: @TedSoMdNews