With Calvert Hall clinging to a 14-13 lead in the fifth set against host Gilman, Cardinals senior setter Will Lansinger knew he wanted to go to senior outside hitter Andrew Keenan for the final point.
Keenan hit the ball off the net down the line and two Gilman players tried to keep it alive, but it fell on the court and the Cardinals won the match.
They took it 18-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-14, 15-13, after trailing two sets to one.
Calvert Hall improved to a league-leading 9-1 in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference, while Gilman dropped to second (10-2).
“Keenan is a great player,” Lansinger said. “He just wanted to put that ball down so hard.”
Keenan was one of three Cardinals with seven kills, along with Nate Bosse and John Boddiford.
“He (Keenan) can jump through the roof, it's crazy,” Lansinger said. “He makes my job easier.”
Andrew Harrell (match-high 12 kills) and Mike Healy (8 kills) also made life easier on attack, and libero Andrew Fanshaw set the offense in motion with some clutch digs.
“He was incredible,” Calvert Hall coach Anthony Cammarata said of Fanshaw. “He had one heckuva game,”
The final set had its dramatic twists and nervous turns from both squads.
Gilman built a 6-3 lead in the final set behind the serving of setter Tyler Wakefield (9 kills, 4 solo blocks, 2 assisted blocks), but Calvert Hall rallied to tie at 7-7.
The teams traded points before Calvert Hall went on a six-point run with Colby Roloff on the service line.
The run started with a solo block by Lansinger (3 blocks, 2 assisted blocks) and a double block from Nate Bosse and Keenan for a 10-8 lead.
“All year, I’ve been trying to get those blocks and I finally picked them up this game,” Lansinger said. “Those were big. I think they helped our momentum a lot.”
Keenan answered a Gilman time out with a kill, after Fanshaw made a diving dig save on a hard-driven ball by Will Richardson (5 kills).
Back-to-back errors and a solo block from Bosse pushed the lead to 14-8 with the Hall on the brink of closing it out.
But, the feisty Greyhounds responded in front of the supportive home crowd.
Jack Harris took over serving duties and promptly landed five straight serves in the court.
Torben Ginsberg had a kill and Harris added an ace during the run, that also included three balls that were hit out of play by the Cardinals.
That set up Keenan for the game-winning spike and he was thinking of only one thing.
“Just get it in,” he said.
It was Gilman’s Wakefield who had the hot hand in the first set, when he led the Greyhounds with four kills and two aces.
“Tyler is fantastic,” Gilman coach Neil Gabbey said. “He’s pretty much our number one setter, but he plays all the way around because he might very well be the best solo blocker in the league. He has come off the court very few times this year.”
Gilman got three kills each from Chris Kohler and Ginsberg and two each from Wakefield, Richardson and Connor Paskoff during the second set in which they led 15-11 after a kills from middle hitter Richardson.
But the Cardinals rallied to tie 15-15 with a tandem block from Boddiford and Healy fueling the fire.
“It just gets us so pumped up when we get a point like that (off a block),” Keenan said. “It’s a huge point, especially against a great team like Gilman — they are really hard to play against.”
Harrell followed that with a solo block and Healy added an ace.
Gilman regained the lead 20-17, following a kill from Ginsberg.
A missed serve was followed by an ace from Keenan and the Cards only trailed 20-19 before Gilman went back up 21-19.
Calvert Hall’s Bosse and Gilman’s Kohler traded kills for side outs and Gilman led 22-20 with the serve.
But, a missed serve and net violation and Calvert Hall’s Boddiford and Bosse’s double block pushed the Cards ahead, 23-22.
After a Gilman time out, Harrell’s kill, off Healy’s assist, made it 24-22 before a Cardinal error made it 24-23.
But Harrell ended the pivotal game with a kill through a double block for the set winner.
The third set also went to the wire, with two kills and two solo blocks late in the set from Wakefield sealing the win for Gilman.
Spencer Morris ( 7 kills) led Gilman in the third set with four kills and Healy and Harrell had four each for Calvert Hall.
In the fourth set, Calvert Hall rode four kills each from Harrell and Boddiford to a convincing 25-14 win.
That set up the final set and Calvert Hall, whose only loss came in five sets when they hosted Gilman earlier in the season, returned the favor.
It was the second time this week the Greyhounds lost in five sets after leading 2-1.
“We still get nervous, especially when we have a lead,” Gabbey said. “That’s what happened against BL the other day and sadly, that’s what happened again tonight.”
Calvert Hall’s Lansinger and coach Cammarata had other ideas.
“We never thought we were out of it,” Lansinger said. “It was a great game.”
“I told them to leave it all out on the court,” Cammarata said.