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Marriotts Ridge volleyball wins 2A South regional title

HARWOOD, MD — It has been a good weekend for the Marriotts Ridge High School athletics program. Less than 24 hours after the football team finished the regular season 7-3 with a ticket to the playoffs for the first time, the volleyball team traveled to Southern, of Anne Arundel County, and delivered a dominant sweep in the 2A South regional championship.

"At the beginning of the season it's always hard to tell what your team is going to be like, but after we played our first match and we went to five with Wilde Lake, I knew that it was going to be a good season," said Marriotts Ridge coach Amanda Olsen, whose team won 25-7, 25-23, 25-8 on Saturday afternoon. "In our gym there's a little blank space where one more regional banner can go before they have to find a new space in the gym ... we got our banner."

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The Mustangs also won regional volleyball titles in 2009 and 2010, but have yet to win a state title. They'll face Oakdale, which is headed to the state tournament for the first time, on Thursday evening at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

"They're a strong team. They're a Howard County-caliber team, so it should be a good match," Olsen said.

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Marriotts Ridge (11-5) was 8-5 during league play, which included back-to-back five set wins after trailing 0-2 against Wilde Lake and Reservoir on consecutive nights to end the regular season.

"Playing such a tough schedule has made us ready for anything that might be on the other side," Olsen said. "We came in a little blind (against Southern), but we prepared all week for the toughest competition that we might face ... we can mix up our lineup and still feel confident and comfortable."

Mustangs junior setter Rachel Dubbs has enjoyed having a variety of offensive weapons this fall. On Saturday, she spread her 20 assists to junior Molly Meininger (9 kills), seniors Allie Desmond and Mikaila Fitzpatrick (5 each) and junior Grace McCoy (4 kills, 5 aces). Junior Chrissy Benton contributed two solo blocks off of the bench.

"They're always willing to work with me. We're always so ambitous, and we always want to get better. We always want to try something different, whatever we can to move the block around, whatever we can to get a point. I couldn't ask for better hitters to work with me," said Dubbs, whose fifth ace was for match point. "We're always ready and we're excited (for the state semifinals) because we think we're going to have a huge crowd there ... we're going to prepare so hard this week for anything."

The second set at Southern was the only one with much drama, as the Bulldogs battled to leads of 17-14 and 22-20 before succumbing.

"We always try to scout out (opponents) so it was kind of nerve wracking going into a game where you don't really know anyone. When we play county teams we know who we're up against, but when we go away, especially so far, we don't really know," Dubbs said.

Marriotts Ridge also defeated Southern in the 2009 regional semifinals before losing to Francis Scott Key in the state semifinals. In 2010, the Mustangs advanced to the state finals, but fell in straight sets to Fallston.

Dubbs is confident that her team will be ready for Oakdale on Thursday, and looks forward to filling one more blank space of wall in the gymnasium.

"The volleyball program hasn't come this far in a long time. We've all played together. There couldn't be a better time to do this. We have so much confidence going into states," she said. "It's a great year for Marriotts Ridge."

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