Audrey Owens had 12 kills and 10 digs to lead No. 1 Arundel (17-0) to a dominant 25-12, 25-13, 25-10 triumph over visiting Dulaney (12-6) in the Class 4A state volleyball quarterfinals.
Arundel’s Payton Swinton (eight kills), Kiara Harmon (seven kills) and Taylor Johnson (six kills) added to the balanced attack that was orchestrated by setter Emily Liu (31 assists).
Arundel advances to the state semifinals on Monday against Bowie. The Wildcats will go for the school’s third state championship after winning in 2019 and 2021. There was no tournament in 2020 because of COVID-19.
“They are the best team in the state,” Dulaney coach Cary Lyon said. “I’d be shocked if they didn’t win it again.”
Arundel’s Taylor Johnson, who had a team-high five aces, played on both state championship teams and is ready for the challenge.
“As a team our goal is to win a state championship, but also to work together, stay together,” she said. “It’s been a long ride, we’ve worked so hard and I think everybody has worked together and held each other accountable.”
Arundel overcame a slow start and pulled away for the 25-12 victory in the first set that ended on a kill by Harmon.
“They really step up for a challenge,” Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said.
The second set was tied at 7-7 before Owens served four straight points that included two aces. They got a kill and block from Johnson and a pair of aces from Liu to turn a 14-9 lead into a 20-9 advantage.
“In the first set, we weren’t as energized, but everybody was still disciplined and still focused which helped us pull through,” Johnson said. “As the sets went on, our energy improved and that got us momentum and we just played a good game.”
Dulaney’s highlight moments came from senior libero Caroline Lee, who had several saves on balls that looked unplayable.
“She is the best libero in the state,” Lyon said. “They wouldn’t serve her.”
Lee kept plays alive, but errant passes made it difficult for Dulaney setter Vail to get the offense in rhythm.
“Our setter was running everything down,” Lyon said. “We just couldn’t put anything away.”
An early kill by Dulaney’s Cristina Kramer, another by Ally Reed (team-high 10 kills) and an ace by Charlie Vail helped lead the Lions to a 7-5 lead in the third set, but the Wildcats finished the contest on a 18-3 run.
Harmon had four kills, two blocks and two aces, and Owens had three kills in the final set.
Yuscavage said her team rarely talked about winning another state title, but now they are just two wins away.
“We focus on what we need to do to get better and did we get better today ,” Yuscavage said.