Although all of them are incapable of being on the court together at any one time, the nine seniors on the Leonardtown High School volleyball team have developed a genuine bond that will be instrumental in matches and lasts well after those games are over.
On Monday evening in the Raiders’ four-set victory over visiting La Plata (1-2) in a Southern Maryland Athletic Conference crossover match, all nine seniors got ample playing time and several of them proved paramount in the triumph. Leonardtown (2-1) upended the Warriors, 25-12, 23-25, 25-12, 25-13 on a night when a pair of seniors rarely left the court and several others played various supporting roles.
Senior setter Kira Snyder ran the Raiders’ offense in three of the four sets — all three victories — and outside hitter Samantha Newton led the way with 18 kills, while middle hitter Shannen Litten made her presence known. Senior Julia Bobrowski was effective on the outside, Emily Boyd was solid in the middle and Madison Allen thrived in her serving role.
“When we’re all out there together it’s a lot of fun,” said Newton, who is involved in both the newspaper and television productions at the school. “We’re really accustomed to working with one another. Kira just does a great job getting the ball to all of our hitters. Initially, we wanted to go undefeated, but now our goals are to win SMAC and see how far we can go in [4A East] regionals.”
Leonardtown had opened the season with a four-set loss to Broadneck of Anne Arundel County, a perennial 4A East power and state title contender. That setback may have altered the Raiders’ goals slightly, but it also gave them plenty of insight on were they have room for improvement. Leonardtown reached the SMAC Chesapeake Division championship last spring in an abbreviated season.
“I think we learned a lot about ourselves in the match with Broadneck,” said Snyder, who plans to forego playing in college and focus on academics. “We lost in four sets, but we played well in those games we lost. We play really well when all of us are on the floor together. It was good for the younger girls to have a chance to play that second set.”
Leonardtown cruised to a 25-12 victory in the opener, ending the set on a prolonged 7-2 run. Snyder yielded the setting roles to Campbell Jameson in the second set and the Raiders struggled early, fell behind 18-12, then rallied to tie the game at 23-all before dropping the last two points. Several other starters were also not available for Jameson that set.
Then with the starters back on the floor for the third and fourth games, Leonardtown cruised to almost identical 25-12, 25-13 victories to close out the set. With Snyder setting, Newton, Litten and Boyd were all effective at the net and Allen recorded six service winners in the third game, including the last two to end that game.
“When they’re all out there together, they’re fun to watch,” said Leonardtown coach Steve Correll. “It all starts with practice. We have some very intense practices. They are always looking to get better.”