With each win, Bel Air's volleyball team reaches deeper into uncharted territory. Wednesday night, the No. 5 Bobcats took another step, defeating visiting Hereford, 25-21, 25-15, 25-19, in a Class 3A North semifinal.
Tia Williams led Bel Air with 12 kills, and Celeste Roland added 11.
The top-seeded Bobcats (18-0) will play host to Towson in the regional championship Friday night, something this group has never experienced.
"We came out a little nervous, but we were OK once we settled down," said Williams, a senior. "We communicated well and stayed tough mentally. Those were keys for us."
Hereford kept the Bobcats on their heels early, playing them to a 12-12 tie in the first set. Roland, a junior, helped the Bobcats score the next three points, and they would never surrender that lead.
The second set was all Bel Air. The Bobcats ran out to a 16-6 lead and won comfortably.
Hereford (15-3) put up a fight in the third set, tying the match 17-17 on a block by Kaja Bibaud. But Bel Air got key kills down the stretch from Williams, Jackie Deluise and Roland to close out the match.
"I thought our strong serving and our passing were the difference," Bobcats coach Tim Markland said. "We were scoring off our serving and attacking, and I think our defense took them out of their game a little and limited their attack. Every year we have taken another step, and last year we lost to Towson in the regional semifinal. We are playing well, but we need it to continue. We can't lose Friday."
Hereford coach Dave Schriner was very complimentary of Bel Air's performance.
"They have a solid team," he said. "They were always playing defense, so our attack couldn't get any runs going. When you cover the floor as well as they do, it makes it hard to hit your spots. They made it tough for us."