On a night when Loch Raven’s overall serving went through lapses, it was the consistent serving in pivotal games one and five from Courtney Genovese, that led the Raiders to a five-set win over visiting Lansdowne in the Class 2A North Region volleyball semifinals.
The 25-17, 21-25, 25-14, 21-25, 15-12 victory lifted the top-seeded Raiders (10-6) to the regional championship game against third-seeded Carver Vo Tech (9-6) on Friday, Nov. 9 at Loch Raven.
It was the second time this season the Raiders defeated Lansdowne in five sets.
Genovese stepped to the service line in the winner-take-all fifth set with the scored tied 11-11.
She proceeded to serve to tough spots and helped the Raiders reel off the next three points for a 14-11 lead.
Katie Costello had a clutch block during the run and Genovese’s hard serve led to s serve-receive error for the 14th point.
Lansdowne stemmed the tide after a Raider violation, but Loch Raven won a long final rally to end the match.
In the first set, Genovese turned a 16-14 lead into a 23-14 advantage by serving eight straight points.
"She (Genovese) struggles sometimes, but she is a mentally strong kid," said Raider coach Matt Smith of the Raider junior. "I like to give her free rights (serving) if we need to put points on the scoreboard."
Maggie Williams ended the first set with an ace. William's also had some timely kills during the match to spark the Raiders.
"She's only a freshman, but she is very aggressive and not afraid to try anything," Smith said.
Lansdowne rallied to win the second set behind strong serving from Kayla Welsh (4 aces) Channan Neville (2) Nicole Wheeler, Linsey Wainio and Rebecca Needleman (1 each), who combined for eight aces in the set.
They also got solid front row play from middle hitters Lisa Cave and Darienne Happel and strong defense from Wheeler and Tori Turner.
Meanwhile, the Raiders missed eight serves in the second set.
The third set was tied 10-10 until Loch Raven’s kill from Alysha Holmes was followed by a pair of aces by Williams and the Vikings never got any closer thanks to strong Raider defene from sophomore Yelee Kim.
Lansdowne got off the deck in the fourth set after trailing 14-10.
With Neville firing serves, the Vikings scored three straight points that included an ace and kill from Welsh.
The nip-and-tuck affair continued until Wainio’s kill sparked a 6-0 Lansdowne run that turned a 19-18 deficit into a 24-19 lead.
Needleman had an ace and kill and Happel and Wainio added kills, while Wheeler made several fine digs to maintain possession.
Happel’s kill force the final set.
Genovese’s pair of aces early were answered by Wheeler’s pair of aces and the set was tied six times until it got to 11-11.
That’s when Genovese stepped to the service line and the match was history.