Arundel moves into state volleyball championship

Arundel volleyball hasn’t lost all season, and that was not in danger of changing Thursday night.

The Wildcats swept Eleanor Roosevelt High School, 25-16, 25-22, 25-9 in the Class 4A state semifinal at Ritchie Coliseum in College Park. Arundel improved to 21-0 and advanced to the state championship game Saturday at 2:30 against Northwest.

The two teams played a tight match for the first two sets, but Arundel controlled most of the game despite a fair share of unforced errors.

“We are really excited to be here and tonight was not a perfect night, but it was a night where we got everything we needed to done,” said head coach Ashley Yuscavage.

Chyna Gubbings finished with seven kills, three aces and a team-high seven digs for Arundel. Alicia Eldredge had a team-high 18 assists, five aces and six digs to go with seven kills. The team totaled 18 service aces.

Still, the Wildcats admitted they didn’t play their best game Thursday.

“I think we can definitely manage our game better and play better,” Eldredge said, later adding that the team had dealt with added pressure of high expectations all year.

Mackenzie Meehan, who finished with five kills and five aces, added that the team was young and working out its antsiness of playing in the larger venue.

The first set started out evenly, but Arundel used an early 6-1 stretch to open up an 11-6 lead. The Wildcats were soon cruising at 15-9, but they let the Raiders crawl back in due to four straight unforced errors. They stopped that bleeding with a seven-point run that included three service winners by Taylor Wigglesworth and held on to win the set.

After Alicia Eldredge killed the opening point of set two for Arundel, the Raiders and Wildcats traded short runs. Roosevelt led 4-1 and 9-5 before Arundel drew it even again. No team would hold a lead larger than three the rest of the set, and the lead changed three more times. Again, Arundel kept Roosevelt hanging around due to violations and communication mistakes, but up 23-22, a pair of Raider violations provided Arundel the final two points of the set. Eldredge and Meehan particularly dominated this set.

Eldredge led off the third set with three straight aces, and in fact, the Raiders couldn’t return her first five serves back across the net after some errors. Roosevelt stifled that run with three points of its own, but the losing side had reached desperation mode. Most of the Raiders’ few remaining points came on errors, as Arundel used a five-point stretch to make it 12-4 and then an eight-point run to leap out to 21-8.

Among other Wildcat performers, Brooke Watts finished with six kills and Nia Smith had five digs.

Arundel is seeking its first state volleyball title since 1953, long before the MPSSAA era. The Wildcats made the state semis last year but lost to Sherwood in the penultimate round. Their only final appearances came in 2011 and 2012.

The Raiders’ season ends with a 20-3 record. They were the Prince George’s County champions, but it was their first state semis appearance since 2012.

Earlier in the night, two-time defending champion Northwest High School swept Sherwood High School, 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 in the first semifinal match. Northwest will play in its fourth straight title game Saturday.

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