There’s a decent chance Arundel and South River will meet on the volleyball court at least once and maybe twice over the course of the next month.
After the performance they put on Thursday, county volleyball fans should be just fine with that.
In a matchup of the teams who met in last year’s county championship game and the Class 4A East Region final, Arundel battled back from a set down and remained unbeaten with a five-set victory over South River, 25-15, 27-29, 20-25, 25-18, 15-12.
Arundel (9-0) never trailed in the fifth set, which was tight throughout with no lead larger than three points.
“We needed to see this team push us and show us what we need to work on,” Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said. “I think for us, this was a mental game. When we struggled in the second and third sets, we were just making mistakes that we can’t afford to make.”
Mackenzie Meehan led a balanced hitting attack with 13 kills and added seven blocks. She had four of her kills in the fourth set and added a kill and a block in the fifth.
“They’re a really solid team and we’re really happy that we can experience this in the middle of the season,” she said. “I’m sure we’ll be seeing them sometime soon.”
With the Wildcats facing elimination in the fourth set, Meehan was blocked and the Seahawks pulled within a point. Setter Alicia Eldredge went right back to her on the next point, which resulted in an emphatic kill that put the Wildcats up by two. Arundel went on to score the next five points and never trailed the rest of the match.
“I think it was just my motivation and my adrenaline were really up then,” Meehan said. “I was calling for it really loud and was really hoping she’d go to me.”
Chyna Gubbings followed with 11 kills, including two in the fifth set, and Eldredge had 30 assists and 13 digs for the Wildcats, who dropped their first sets in county play this year. Eldredge also accounted for a pair of points directly in the fifth on well-placed dumps and tips.
“I try and look over and see where the blockers are and see who’s the hot hitter and just distribute the ball that way,” Eldredge said. “If I see a tip open, I just go for it.”
Taylor Wigglesworth served five straight points during a pivotal stretch in the fourth and was also at the service line for the clinching point of the match. She finished with five aces, including one in the fifth set.
“It was hard because we usually take teams in three sets,” she said. “This will prepare us for later games in the season against the top teams.”
Sabrina Sheppard had 13 digs and Brooke Watts added five blocks for the the Wildcats, who also finished with 13 aces as a team.
Samanta Tarabella led South River with 11 kills and 19 digs and went 3 for 4 for serving for the Seahawks, who lost for the first time in county play.
“We had critical errors at critical times,” South River coach Maureen Carter said. “When you have a lot of unforced errors against a team like Arundel, they’re going to come out on top.”
Savannah Doctor followed with 10 kills, six digs and went 15 for 17 serving with five aces, Jessica Adams added nine kills, Erin Canter had four kills and Emily Speciale had 30 assists and went 9 for 10 serving for South River (8-2).
“They hit real hard. I thought our defense was OK, but we just couldn’t string together a lot of points,” Carter said. “This match was all momentum.”
Kat Corkadel had 14 digs and went 7 for 7 serving, Caitlyn Houck was 15 for 17 serving with an ace and Amanda Vigil had 10 digs and three aces for the Seahawks.