Lansdowne volleyball rode an aggressive serving effort and timely hitting to a 3-1 victory over visiting Owings Mills in the first round of the Class 2A North Region II playoffs, 25-17, 25-9, 24-26, 25-17.
Senior Kaia Montgomery led the Vikings (11-5) with 10 aces and sophomore Morgan Mallard added eight aces and a match-high 12 kills. Serafina Stubbs led the Eagles (3-11) with seven kills and Gabrielle Greenwood added six.
After winning the first set with a balanced offense, the Vikings controlled the second with six service aces from five different players.
“We’ve really had some issues throughout the season with our serving,” Lansdowne coach Sarah Curran said. “Today, our first five servers all made serves.”
Middle hitter Erin Farrell led the offense, guided by setters Haylee Beard and Alana Papetti, with four kills in the second set.
In the third set, Lansdowne built leads of 8-2 and 10-6 before the Eagles rallied behind the serving of Liz Elindu. She served eight straight points and gave the Eagles a 14-10 lead. She had two aces during the run.
Stubbs heated up with five kills during the set and setter Bralyn Davis got the hitters involved after the passing improved for the Eagles.
“If we can’t get the ball to the setter, of course we can’t run our offense. It’s just that simple,” Owings Mills coach Tarese Smith said. “Once we get the ball where we are supposed to get it, we can run offense all day, but we’ve got to get the ball there. Our passing is very inconsistent, they picked it up the third and fourth games, but the first two games they struggled.”
Owings Mills built a 4-0 lead in the fourth set behind Davis’ serving, but Lansdowne rallied with eight straight points. Montgomery had three more aces during the stretch.
Owings Mills was within four, 13-9, when Mallard ripped off five straight aces using a variety of deep, hard floaters and well-placed short serves.
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“All the training that we put in and sometimes you’ve got to mix it up and when it comes time to play, it’s time to play,” Mallard said.
“She really is just a very smart player, she listens to what we say and she is also aware of what is going on on the court,” Curran said.
Mallard, who had nine kills in the final two sets, didn’t lose confidence after the Eagles won the third set.
“The game goes either way, but certain moments both teams had their good moments and I give credit to the other team, they played really well today,” Mallard said.
Lansdowne advances to the second round of the regional playoffs for the first time since Curran took over seven seasons ago.
“We might have won one game last year,” she said. “It’s been really nice, I think I’ve taken it for granted the fact that I’ve seen such a progression and sometimes I know I’m definitely harder on them because I know I want more and I forget to congratulate them for the things they are doing right, right now.”
The Vikings will play the winner of Carver A&T Monday in the regional semifinals.