Glenelg is headed back to the state finals for the first time since 2008.
The Gladiators (15-2) defeated Westminster (10-9), 3-1, in the 3A state semifinals Monday night at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum to advance to Friday night’s state championship against North Hagerstown (17-1).
Senior Sarah Girard racked up 20 kills, to give her 413 for the season. Junior setter Rachael Girard has run the Glenelg offense all season.
“I can always count on Rachael when I’m upset to tell me to snap out of it,” said Sarah Girard, who is considering Johns Hopkins and Swarthmore as college selections.
The Gladiators lost the first set, 25-22, but rallied to win the next three, 25-20, 25-14, 25-16.
Juniors Molly Jordan, Corinne Conover and Olivia Fortson, and sophomore Kara Crawford, contributed big kills during crucial moments in the later sets for the Gladiators.
Last year, Glenelg lost in five sets to eventual state champion Damascus in the state semifinals.
“All credit to the girls because they fought,” said coach Jason Monjes, who is in his second season. “They fought to earn what they’ve been working for all year."
Senior Elissa Dorsey’s ace gave Glenelg match point.
“It’s wonderful to be able to play with these girls and we all keep each other up,” Dorsey said. “When one person makes a mistake we just all stay together.”
Glenelg won state championships in 1993, 1995, 2002, and 2005, and lost in the finals in 1997, 2001, 2003 and 2008.
It was Westminster’s first trip to the state tournament.
The Owls were led by seniors Sarah Torres and Shannon Pumputis and junior Kristen Bishop.
“This is our first time in the state tournament and I think that’s really awesome for our program,” Westminster coach Ed Benish said. “I’m really proud of the way the girls fought. We’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. (Glenelg) is a really good team. They’ve been coming to the state tournament year after year.”
North Hagerstown swept Huntingtown in the other 3A state semifinal.
Glenelg trailed 13-7 in the second set but a seven-point serving run by Dorsey got the set, and the match, back under control. The Gladiators, whose only losses this year were to county foe Reservoir, never trailed in the 3rd or 4th sets.
“We really didn’t get into a rhythm right at the beginning of the match and Westminster really did a good job of taking us out of system,” Monjes said. “In the second set we just had to settle down and get back to Glenelg volleyball. Once we play within our style we get back that confidence and play the way that we do. We got back to being able to serve Westminster out of system. That was the big thing … our passing got better and our defense got better as the game went on, and you just ride that momentum when it hits."EndFragment