Glenelg, Howard head toward volleyball showdown for county title

Tally one up for the Howard County volleyball schedule-makers. Glenelg will visit Howard Thursday afternoon at 4:30 with the 2013 Howard County title on the line.

After Glenelg defeated Marriotts Ridge and Howard edged rival Centennial in five sets Tuesday evening, both teams enter the final day of the regular season with matching 11-1 league records.

The 14-time state champion Centennial Eagles (6-6) have had an uncharacteristic season, losing county matches to Glenelg, Howard (twice), Mt. Hebron, River Hill and Wilde Lake, but Scott knew better than to start prematurely planning for Thursday's showdown.

"They're still scary. They have too many good players to be taken lightly," said Scott, whose team's only loss this season was in five sets to Glenelg on Sept. 16.

Centennial actually won the second and third sets Tuesday night to push Howard to the limit, but the Lions stormed back to win the final two sets by a combined score of 40-10.

"I'm glad to ... be a part of a county title match. It (will) definitely be exciting to see two one-loss teams play at the end of the season," Scott said.

First-year Glenelg coach Jason Monjes, whose only loss this year is to River Hill, is also looking forward to the match, but knows that there is more on the line than just Glenelg's first county title since 2003.

"It becomes a bigger game for us because that match will also dictate our standing in the playoffs. You always want to be the No. 1 seed," Monjes said. "We know what we have to do to beat them and no other team has been able to do that other than us. But both teams have obviously gotten a lot better since that match."

Since then, each team has won a tournament: Glenelg was crowned champion of the Linganore Invitational and Howard won the Thomas Johnson tournament.

Because Howard — whose last regional title came in 1980 — is in the 4A Classification, and Glenelg is in the 3A, this will be the last time the teams meet in 2013. In their first meeting, Glenelg's Morgan Perry recorded 21 kills and Howard's Sydney Biniak had 22. Both players are returning all-county first teamers and now have eclipsed 200 kills for the season.

"I think Morgan and Sydney will kind of balance each other out and it's going to come down to the supporting cast," Monjes said. "I think the difference is going to be which team serves and passes better."

Both teams have excellent secondary weapons as well: Sarah Girard (139 kills) and Molly Calvert (88 kills, 16 blocks) for Glenelg, and Courtney Merson (108 kills, 33 blocks) and Maya Hairston (93 kills, 34 blocks) for Howard.

Glenelg's setter, sophomore Rachael Girard, has 445 assists, while Howard junior Hanna Webster has 416.

Lizzie Berg (205 digs) has led the Howard defense, while Sarah Girard (212) has done double duty as the Gladiators top defender.

"The interesting thing about volleyball is that all of these girls know each other, there aren't any surprises," Scott said. "It's trying to figure out how to beat what they have with what we have, and they're trying to do the same thing."

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