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Dulaney volleyball falls to unbeaten Wootton in Class 4A state quarterfinals

Dulaney junior Caroline Lee digs a serve during the Lions Class 4A regional championship win over Perry Hall. Dulaney was eliminated in the state quarterfinals at Wootton.
Dulaney junior Caroline Lee digs a serve during the Lions Class 4A regional championship win over Perry Hall. Dulaney was eliminated in the state quarterfinals at Wootton. (Brian Krista/Baltimore Sun Media)

The unbeaten season continued for the Wootton volleyball team as the host Patriots (17-0) ended the season for Dulaney (13-6) with a 25-8, 25-18, 25-19 victory in the Class 4A state quarterfinals on Friday night.

The Lions, who were making their 16th appearance in the state tournament and seeking their fourth state title, never got untracked in the first set.

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“It was the state championships, so everybody was nervous,” Dulaney junior setter Charlie Vail said. “The second set we started off strong.”

The Lions trailed 14-10 in the second set before they rallied to tie it at 16-16.

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Dulaney coach Cary Lyon instructs his team during a timeout in the Lions loss to Wootton in the state quarterfinals.
Dulaney coach Cary Lyon instructs his team during a timeout in the Lions loss to Wootton in the state quarterfinals. (Photo by Craig Clary)

A block by senior Chloe Broomell sparked the rally and the second of two aces by Caroline Lee tied the match.

But, sophomore Lauren Smith (match-high 12 kills) had consecutive kills to give the Patriots an 18-16 lead.

Abbey Hochrein (three kills) cut the deficit to one and, after a hitting error by Dulaney and missed serve by Wooton, the Lions trailed 19-18.

A kill from Iris Guo (four kills), and desperation dig of what look like a Dulaney point by Michelle Yu led to another point.

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“You’ve got to applaud them,” Dulaney coach Cary Lyon said. “There were two times when we thought we had the point and they got it up and got another chance and flicked it over.”

A block by Guo, Dulaney net violation and kill from Guo ended the pivotal second set.

In the final set, Dulaney trailed 20-11, but rallied with four of the next five points, starting with a kill from Broomell and including a kill by Julia Mendel.

Wootton answered behind strong defense from libero Jessica Chen and setting from Samantha Bolze to close out the victory.

“Our libero was really moving tonight,” Wootton coach Mary Malinauskas said.

The coach also praised the play of Bolze, who was one of four setters employed by the coach.

“She (Bolze) is so steady,” Malinauskas said. “She is a senior and I also coached her sister who was a very similar player. They are both steady and do whatever needs to be done.”

Malinauskas’s squad moves on to the state semifinals where they will face Leonardtown.

Asked how her team continues its unbeaten ride, the coach responded: “All I’ve said all year long is this team finds a way,” she said. “They just play and they are happy doing it. They are very happy to be playing after last year’s COVID mess and they are happy to be around each other and they are happy to do what I ask them to do and it’s showing.”

Dulaney coach Lyon reflected on a season that went exactly as he expected.

“This was exactly my expectations,” Lyon said. “I said at the beginning of the season we are going to lose five (regular season) matches and we are going to go the states and I don’t know how far we will go.”

The Lions will lose five keys seniors, but returns junior setter Vail (13 assists) and junior libero Lee (nine digs).

“My setter (Vail) just ran her heart out,” Lyon said.

Despite the disappointment of the loss, Vail was proud of the way the team rallied this season.

“It was exciting,” Vail said. “We didn’t have high expectations because we are a small team, but we had really good energy to get into things.”

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