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Bel Air, Fallston girls volleyball win region titles

Bel Air's Mackenzie Springer and her teammates celebrate their girls volleyball 3A North Region II championship win over C. Milton Wright on Wednesday.
Bel Air's Mackenzie Springer and her teammates celebrate their girls volleyball 3A North Region II championship win over C. Milton Wright on Wednesday. (Matt Button / The Aegis/Baltimore Sun Media)

Bel Air won its third straight region girls volleyball title and eighth overall Wednesday night, beating visiting C. Milton Wright, 3-0, for the 3A North Region II championship.

Fallston also won its fifth region title, while Patterson Mill’s bid for a third title came up short.

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The Bobcats (15-0) won rather comfortably, 25-15, 25-12, 25-17. Bel Air will host Crofton (14-4) in a state quarterfinal Friday at 5:30 p.m.

“I think our team has gotten more surgical and precise as the year’s gone on,” Bobcats coach Dave Simon said.

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The Bobcats were far from perfect, but with the power of Kayden Hardenbrook and Lexi Couch at the net and the serves of many, especially Megan Cassaday, Bel Air was just too good on this night for the Mustangs (6-9).

Hardenbrook’s first of three kills in the set helped set the tone, and the Bobcats led 12-6 when CMW called its first timeout.

Couch (three kills) and Jaydn Betters (two) aided the first set win, while Cassaday (four aces, nine digs) came on to serve two aces as the lead grew to 18-11.

Two more aces for Bel Air put the Bobcats up 22-12 before they closed out the set. Jayda Patterson had four kills in the set for the Mustangs.

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In the second set, Bel Air jumped out to an 9-2 lead. The Mustangs made a bit of a run, but a combo block from Couch and Anaiah Lewis ended it, and the Bobcats led 11-5. Seven aces in the set helped the Bobcats extend the lead to 14-7 before it jumped to 17-8.

Lewis added her second block to put Bobcats up set point. Seconds later, it was 2-0 Bobcats with the 13-point win.

In the third and final set, Cassaday served the Bobcats to an 8-1 lead, prompting CMW coach Dave Naugle to call a timeout.

The stoppage did help as the Mustangs won five of the next eight points to trail 11-6. Couch and Hardenbrook, though, were just too much. Couch (nine kills, three aces) put down six kills in the set and Hardenbrook (nine kills) had five to push the Bobcats to victory.

Patterson (seven kills) had four in the final set to keep the Mustangs in it for a while. Patterson also had one ace and three digs.

Bel Air served eight more aces in the final set, including the final point, to complete the sweep and put the Bobcats within another win of a trip back to the state semifinals.

“Honestly, I think our team has played really well together, we’ve really found a connection,” said Hardenbrook, a sophomore. “I really think that’s a huge part of becoming a regional champion.”

The Mustangs suffered in two obvious areas; serve and serve returns. CMW had a season-high 23 serve/receive errors, including 17 points given up on Bel Air aces.

“A lot of girls, this is new to them, this environment. We only had two returning girls from the 2019 season and we played ion this place and it was exciting, it was loud, and we knew it was going to be like that,” Mustangs coach Naugle said. “We could tell they were a little tense and we told them, hey, you’ve got to kill the ball, you can’t just give it back to them, because they’re going to kill us every time.”

Mackenzie Springer (five aces, two kills, 15 assists), Autumn Grimsley (two aces, 13 digs), Jaydn Betters (two aces, two blocks), Grimsley (13 digs) and Ava Meyer (11 assists) contributed in the win.

“I’m super proud of them, they’ve put in a tremendous amount of hard work,” Simon said. “We expect a lot, we work really hard at practice. I’ve always told them, the greatest joy that they could have as a player is, working really hard and then enjoying the fruit of their labor.”

Libby Gross (11 assists, five digs), Ana Mioduski (four kills, three digs, one ace, one assist), Ciara Green (two kills), Sophia Lyons (one kill) and Miranda Turner (one kill) helped lead the Mustangs.

Fallston 3, Rising Sun 1

The Cougars (8-8) won the 2A East Region I title over the host Tigers (8-8), 22-25, 25-18, 25-12, 25-18.

The Cougars’ strong offense provided 13 aces and 25 kills. Allie Book (11 assists), Amanda Sharpe (three aces, five blocks, three kills), Lyndsey Kregel (six blocks, three kills), Samantha Conrad (three aces, two kills), Ellery Thompson (three aces, five kills), Kyra Douglass (eight kills), Abby Ruth (14 digs) and Grace Pfaff (seven digs) led the Cougars.

The Cougars will be on the road Friday or Saturday at Hereford (15-1) for their state quarterfinal.

Bo Manor 3, Patterson Mill 1

The Huskies (6-9) were beaten in the 1A East Region I final by the host Eagles (14-2), 25-19, 28-26, 31-33, 25-13.

Grace Bonhoff, Ella Laurentius, Josie Otremba and Julia Shrewsberry combined for 36 kills, while Ava Shores and Otremba teamed up for 54 digs in games that were packed with incredible rallies.

Senior Abby McDowell finished out a great season with 34 assists and 20 digs.

“At the beginning of this season I mentioned the grit this team demonstrates, and after an early season injury to senior Cailey Jones it became more apparent then ever, the resilience of this great young team as they rallied behind the one remaining senior, setter Abby McDowell, and pressed forward to find themselves arrive in this moment,” Huskies coach Brandon Jones said.

“With four sophomores in the starting lineup tonight, they relentlessly battled a great team and even pushed a match beyond 30 points before taking that set. It was truly something special to be a part of. While taking back-to-back regional titles would have been great, I couldn’t be more proud of this team.”

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