Glenelg senior Sarah Girard is intent on getting her team back to the state tournament.
The outside hitter turned in a dominant performance during her team's 25-14, 25-10, 22-25, 25-19 victory over visiting Wilde Lake (9-4, 11-5) in Wednesday's 3A East regional Section II final, recording a season-high 35 kills.
"We don't take anything for granted. Nothing this season has come easy to us at all, we have to work for every point," said Girard, who now has more than 360 kills this season. "I was very ready to play this game because it's my senior year and I don't want my season to end."
Girard also had a team-high 22 digs in the win. Her younger sister, Rachael Girard, had 45 assists and four aces, and junior libero Kristen Thesing had 16 digs and eight aces.
Behind Girard's 35 kills, sophomore Kara Crawford was next with nine.
"I kind of put the onus on the seniors about owning the moment. They're not going to have so many opportunities left," Glenelg coach Jason Monjes said. "What can you say about Sarah? … She just knows how to take care of things. Just seeing her evolve as a leader, the girls respect her."
Girard also had 35 kills in a season-opening five-set loss to Reservoir, who so far is the only team to beat the Gladiators (11-2, 13-2) this season. Reservoir, which handed Glenelg its only two losses, lost to Wilde Lake in the quarterfinals on Monday night.
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The Wildecats were riding the hot hands of sophomore Carmen Freeman and senior Kelly Surkovich, but came out cold in the first two sets on Wednesday.
Freeman came alive with 10 kills across the last two sets, while Surkovich added eight in that span.
"We made some mistakes … they fought hard at the end, it's just difficult when you're in the hole to have to fight. You always want to be on the other side of that," Wilde Lake coach Caitlin Williams said. "Our team is best when we play self contained, composed volleyball and we got a little bit frantic a couple of times. That gets us out of system … but overall I'm proud of them. This is a great team."
Glenelg moves on to host Mt. Hebron — a 3-0 winner at Baltimore Poly — in the 3A East regional championship match Friday at 5 p.m. The Gladiators won in five sets at Mt. Hebron in the 2013 regional championship before losing to eventual champion Damascus in the state semifinals.
The last of Glenelg's four state titles came almost 10 years ago, in 2005.
The Howard Lions' season came to an end with a 3-0 sweep at Sherwood in the 4A North Section II finals Wednesday night. Last year, Howard defeated Sherwood in five sets in the sectional finals, ending the Warriors' bid for a fourth consecutive state title.