For the fifth year in a row the Hereford volleyball team made the trip to Ritchie Coliseum in College Park and left with a loss in the Class 2A state semifinals.
Oakdale, of Frederick County, got off to fast starts in the first and third sets and rolled to a 25-7, 25-22, 25-12 victory.
Hereford (16-4) was making its 13th trip to the state tournament and Oakdale (16-2) was making its second.
In Oakdale’s only other appearance, in 2014, they won the state title and two of the girls were there for the historic occasion.
Senior hitter Megan Ray was a ballgirl and sophomore hitter Jess Twilley was watching her older sister, Liz Twilley, play for the champions.
This time, Liz, who plays for the University of Maryland, was in the stands watching the her younger sister lead the Bears with seven kills, including five in the first set, when the Bears raced to a 5-0 lead and never looked back.
Three of the points came on aces by Megan Ray, who led the match with six aces to go along with her five kills.
“It was just all nerves,” said Hereford junior Maggie May, who led the Bulls with 11 kills. “The environment is just really intimidating and I tried to focus and to save the match in the second and third set.”
In the second set, Oakdale had eight aces, including five after the score was tied 10-10.
After a missed Hereford serve gave the Bears an 11-10 lead, Amani Walker had three consecutive aces to bump the lead to 14-11.
“It was more like a top spin, because when I hit it I snapped my wrist and it ended up having spin on the ball which made it drop faster,” Walker said.
In the match, Oakdale finished with 20 aces, compared to Hereford’s five, and the aggressive serving was no accident.
“We have focused since day one on serving and being tough servers and trying to keep the ball low and we have several girls where the ball just moves around,” Oakdale coach Jim Dorsch said. “It’s not easy to see as well from the sideline, but if you go to the end, you see that thing just moving and it’s very difficult to serve and we have used that all season.”
Oakdale also varied its hits following the sets from Sydney Katz.
After Maggie May’s kill pulled Hereford within one, 22-21, in the second set, Ray had a tip for a 23-21 lead.
“I love tipping,” Ray said. “Jess is always swinging and she is great at that and it’s always like kill after kill, after kill and the change of pace definitely works in our favor sometimes.”
Hereford senior McKenna May had a kill to make it 23-22, but Oakdale earned a sideout with a well-placed push kills by Walker to the deep corner for a 24-22 lead.
A kill by Jen Chomiak ended the second set.
Oakdale raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set and followed the lead of Twilley (three kills) and Alyssa Bennett (three aces) to the 25-12 victory.
“The first game, obviously was rough and whether they didn’t play as well or we played better, we were in the second game and if a few things could have went the other way, maybe we could have stole one and it would have been a different match,” Hereford coach Dave Schreiner said. “I’m proud of the kids and it’s about opportunities and we had opportunities today and there are going to be more opportunities for these kids.”
Unfortunately, junior Maggie May won’t get the chance to play high school volleyball again with her older sister, McKenna, but they have enjoyed the ride together.
“I’ve been playing with her since about 12 and she’s obviously one of my favorites,” McKenna May said. “I think she’s always real competitive and she may not have that face on all the time, but she pulls through and I love watching her hit, so it’s great.”
In addition to McKenna May, the loss ended the prep careers of starting senior setter Erica Hilse, senior libero Heather Collins and senior reserves Sierra Webb and Sophie Benson.