In a volleyball matchup featuring two of the most talented hitters in Baltimore County, it was Hereford’s defense that proved to be the difference as the No. 9 host Bulls (11-1) beat No. 13 Towson, 25-16, 11-25, 26-24, 24-26, 17-15.
Hereford’s Maggie May finished with a game-high 25 kills and Haeven Henderson added 17 and McKenna May had nine kills.
It was made possible by the passing of libero Heather Collins and defensive specialists Sydney Pursley and Val Garcia, who got the ball in prime spots for setter Erica Hilse.
Towson’s Sara Mandreja led Towson with 19 kills and Bria Kahnert added 14.
Maggie May and Mandreja were unstoppable hitting from the outside with May firing most over her kills down the line and over or through the block and Mandreja spreading her hits out.
It was junior Maggie May that was on the line in the fifth set, serving for the match after Towson (8-2) had erased 14-11 deficit.
Leading 16-15 after a hitting error by Towson, May fired a deep serve that the Generals banged off the ceiling and never got over the net for the game-winning point.
“It felt so good because I was afraid I was going to hit it out,” said May, whose kill had given the Bulls a 15-14 lead.
She was much more confident in her kills.
“I like to use their block so it goes out [off the block],” she said.
Towson coach Emily Berman was impressed by both Maggie May and Mandreja.
“You know what I would like to see is a match between no. 10 [Mandreja] on my team and no. 11 [May] on their team,” Berman said. “That’s what I want, one on one.”
She wasn’t pleased with her team’s defense.
“We were reacting, we were not reading and we were not anticipating and no. 11 [May] really overpowered us, but she was also very smart and she consistently outsmarted us,” said Berman, who warned her team that she was going to hit down the line most of the time. “It was frustrating, but we still couldn’t stop it.”
Except for the second set when Hereford lost by 14 points, the Bulls managed their errors.
“I thought we passed pretty well and we got to some balls that kept a rally going for us,” Hereford coach Dave Schreiner said. “All-around, I thought we played pretty well today and I told the kids at the end, we need to have a good pass because our best hitter was in the front row and that’s what is going to win this game.”
Towson senior setter Logan Marsh had a strong game with 30 assists and six aces, but her shining moment came in the fourth set with the Generals on the brink of elimination.
Towson trailed 24-20 when Mandreja’s kill put Marsh on the service line, still trailing by three.
She served out the final five points, including an ace that tied the score at 24-24.
Mandreja’s kill and a tip by Kahnert ended the fourth set, but the resilient Bulls responded and captured the fifth set and the match.
The win was the 11th straight for the Bulls, who lost to Towson in five sets in the Baltimore County championship game last year, 3-2, after leading 2-0.
“It feels really great. They are a very good team,” Maggie May said.