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Hereford High's teammates and coaches celebrate after winning the Baltimore County championship over Dulaney in four sets.
Hereford High's teammates and coaches celebrate after winning the Baltimore County championship over Dulaney in four sets. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

When Hereford won the Baltimore County championship last year against Dulaney, they rallied from two sets down for the five-set victory.

On Wednesday night, they rallied a lot earlier and the momentum gained in the first set propelled the visiting Bulls to a 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18 victory.

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The Bulls (11-4), who rallied to win the first set after trailing 13-6, were led by the hitting of Lily Gaffney (nine kills), Olivia Armstrong (seven kills) and Cindy Parker (six kills).

They also got strong setting from Emma Clark and passing from Emma Thompson and Autumn Welsh.

Amber Medina had 21 kills and six aces for Dulaney (11-4) and Lisa Liu had 18 kills. Leana Kashtelyan added 31 assists for the Lions.

After a kill by Liu, Dulaney earned a side out, and Liu served four consecutive aces while the Bulls tried to find their passing game.

They trailed 17-9 when the comeback began.

A net violation was followed by a pair of aces from Clark and a pair of Dulaney errors cut the deficit to four, 17-13.

Parker’s kill made it 18-15 with Parker on the service line.

Hereford High junior Cindy Parker serves during the Bulls' 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18 victory over Dulaney.
Hereford High junior Cindy Parker serves during the Bulls' 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-18 victory over Dulaney. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

Dulaney’s hitting error was followed by an ace, but Dulaney earned the side out on a kill from Liu and they led 19-17.

Following a service error, Hereford tied it at 19-all on a kill by Bailey Meadowcroft.

Autumn Meadowcroft’s ace gave the Bulls a lead, and a hitting error and kill by Gaffney pushed it to 22-19.

Dulaney never got closer then two and Bailey Meadowcroft’s block ended the set.

“We settled down. We have worked real hard at trying to be better at serve-receive,” Hereford coach Dave Schreiner said.

“I think we had some nerves in the beginning trying to get in it, but we knew we had to play smart,” Gaffney said.

Dulaney’s nerves came after its lead slipped away.

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“Whenever we play we try to have the most energy, but we were kind of down at that time because we need to work on our energy and we needed to just communicate,” Liu said. “Everyone was just so nervous that we took it to another level that we didn’t need to.”

The nerves eased in the second set and it was Dulaney that rallied.

After falling behind 9-3, the Lions tied it at 12-all.

Following two Hereford points, Liu’s kill pulled the Lions to within 14-13 and Medina took over on the service line.

She served six straight points, while getting four aces using a mix of hard drops and deep floaters.

Dulaney's Amber Medina serves during the Lions loss in four games to Hereford in the Baltimore County championship game. Medina finished with six aces.
Dulaney's Amber Medina serves during the Lions loss in four games to Hereford in the Baltimore County championship game. Medina finished with six aces. (Craig Clary / BSMG)

Dulaney led 20-14 before Medina lost her serve. Hereford pulled to 20-17, but a missed serve gave libero Izzy Hodiste the serve and Liu’s three straight kills gave them a 24-17 lead.

Hereford didn’t go quietly.

Armstrong’s kill was followed by five straight points with Autumn Meadowcroft on the service line, making it 24-23.

Armstrong had a kill during the run and Meadowcroft added an ace, but Liu ended the set with a kill.

Although Medina and Liu combined for 39 kills, the Bulls tandem block did a better job containing them in the final two sets.

“We been practicing blocking and trying to take the lane away and we were able to follow her (Medina) arm and set that block right up for her,” Gaffney said.

Dulaney led 15-8 in the third set when the Bulls rallied by outscoring them 9-2 and tying the set at 17-17.

Armstrong had a hard-driven kill, tip for a kill and block during the run.

A pair of aces by Charlie Vail gave the Lions a slight cushion, 19-17, but Hereford rallied to tie at 21-21 after a missed serve.

A hitting error and timely dump for a kill by setter Clark made it 23-21.

Dulaney got a break after a missed serve, but returned the favor and the Bulls led 24-22.

Medina’s kill, off a Kashtelyan assist, put the Bulls up 24-22 and, after a Medina kill, Parker’s tip ended it.

Thompson had a pair of aces in the final set and Gaffney and Parker had three kills each to lead the Bulls.

“I thought we passed the ball unbelievable in the last two games,” Schreiner said.

Thompson and Welsh were making a lot of key digs and pinpoint passes in the final two sets enabling the Bulls to get into their offense.

“The thing was, we didn’t get too aggressive to the point where all we would do was knock the ball out of bounds, we just stayed steady,” Schreiner said. “I told the kids, it’s about winning one point at a time.”

Despite the loss, Liu likes the way the Lions have developed with only three players back from last year’s roster.

“We are still coming together,” Liu said. “I think we’ve grown so much more then everyone thought we would.”

Schreiner thinks his team may have been more relaxed this year, since they didn’t practice on Saturdays and had shorter practices.

“We’ve been going for only an hour and a half lately and I think they were the beneficiaries of that because we worked on the things we thought were important instead of dragging practices out every day because you feel like you gotta go so long and I just thought the kids were fresh today and they were ready to play,” Schreiner said.

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