Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante said she could see the nerves on the faces of several of her upperclassmen in the early stages of both sets against visiting Glenelg in the quarterfinals of the county championship tournament Wednesday.
When it came down to making plays in crunch time, however, experience in big situations went a long way for the Gators.
Creating separation down the stretch after trailing early on in both games, Reservoir earned a 2-0 sweep of Glenelg by scores of 25-22 and 25-18 to advance into a semifinal matchup next week against Marriotts Ridge.
“For some of my seniors, I could tell that they were thinking about how this could be it for them and there was a lot of emotion that went along with that,” Ferrante said. “They have been waiting for this season for so long and have wanted it so bad, sometimes that can work against you. I think Glenelg came out playing very well and we were overthinking things, which put us into some tough spots.
“But the fact that they were able to collectively refocus and lean on one another says so much. Watching that game, it wasn’t one person that did it. It was all of them doing their part.”
The Gators’ senior group, including Kayla Brown (five kills and four blocks), Navleen Kaur (three kill and four digs), Breyonna Young (six digs) and Shelby Reed (three blocks), certainly delivered in the big moments. But just as important were the contributions of the younger core on the team, including Jessica Rothermel (nine assists), Kelsey Holmes (three kills and seven assists) and Mayah Tucker (five kills).
Holmes said when things got tough, particularly when Reservoir (8-0) was trailing 16-12 in game one and 5-0 early in game two, having veteran leadership went a long way.
“Having players who have been in these situations, where they know how to pull us out of a rut when we may not be playing our best, that really makes a huge difference,” Holmes said. “We have players who aren’t afraid to speak up and take charge when things are close.”
No. 7 Glenelg (2-3), which was playing its first match in three weeks because of a shutdown due to coronavirus protocols, certainly outperformed its seeding. The Gladiators moved some players around, including switching senior libero Alyssa Kelly (two kills, seven digs and four aces) to outside hitter, and ended up playing the undefeated second-seeded Gators tough from start to finish.
“We came in knowing all the pressure was on them. No one picked us to win this match or probably keep it that close, so I was very pleased with their effort,” Glenelg coach Jason Monjes said. “I mean, that’s the first time we’ve used that lineup this season, and yet we really had a shot. There were just a couple more plays that they made at the end when it mattered most.”
Monjes said that Reservoir’s height at the net was a big difference in crunch time. The Gators ended up with eight blocks as a team and got multiple in big moments.
“The group of Shelby, Kayla and Anjola [Omolewa] … they did a phenomenal job of not only having really good timing with the block, but also being able to respond if it did come back on our side,” Ferrante said. “I don’t think we came in thinking about having a height advantage, but we did end up taking advantage of it.”
The first set was back-and-forth most of the way, featuring eight ties and neither team leading by more than five points. Glenelg’s largest advantage was at 16-12 before Reservoir answered with an extended run to tie the match and eventually take the lead. Reservoir later went ahead 24-19 before staving off a final Glenelg push for the opening-set win.
The second set was all Glenelg early, with the Gladiators grabbing a 5-0 advantage on the serve of Kelly. Reservoir slowly chipped away, however, and ended up taking its first lead of the set at 11-10. The score was tied 17-17 before the Gators finally created the separation they needed to emerge victorious.
Looking ahead to the matchup next Wednesday against No. 3 Marriotts Ridge, a team that played Reservoir to its closest game of the season in a 2-1 decision last week, Holmes believes that the Gators will be ready.
“Hopefully we learn from this and there is a switch that comes on next week where we realize that this is really for the prize and we can bring our best game,” Holmes said. “We are going for the gold now, and we know what we have to do.”
No. 2 Reservoir def. No. 7 Glenelg — 2-0 [25-22, 25-18]
Reservoir stats: Kayla Browne (5 kills, 4 blocks, 4 aces, 3 digs), Navleen Kaur (3 kills, 4 digs, 2 aces), Breyonna Young (6 digs), Shelby Reed (3 blocks), Jesscia Rothermel (9 assists, 4 digs), Kelsey Holmes (3 kills, 7 assists, 5 digs) and Mayah Tucker (5 kills).
Glenelg stats: Alyssa Kelly (2 kills, 7 digs, 4 aces), Lindsay Kelley (12 assists), Libby Laport (5 kills, 2 digs) and Mackenzie Calhoun (5 kills, 6 digs, ace).
No. 4 Centennial def No. 5 River Hill — 2-0 [25-20, 25-16]
The Eagles (6-2) earned the sweep, over a Hawks (4-3) team playing for the first time in three weeks, to advance into a county tournament semifinal game next Wednesday against top-seeded Howard.
Centennial stats: Mailinh Godschall (6 kills, 2 aces, 11 digs and 1 block); Grace Chan (4 kills, 2 blocks); Abi Griffin (3 kills); Emily Hollwedel (1 kill, 2 blocks); Kendal Kreidel (3 kills, 2 blocks); Jenny Dong (7 digs); Caleigh Kim (13 digs); Brianna Bossom (3 kills, 1 ace, 6 digs, 16 assists).
Hammond def. Wilde Lake — 2-0 [25-20, 25-16]
Hammond stats: Abbie Weirich (4 aces, 3 kills, 1 dig), Jenna Kreh (16 assists, 6 digs), Kaylee Hernandez (4 aces, 1 kill, 1 dig) and Allison Haines (1 ace, 3 kills).
Marriotts Ridge 49, Glenelg 46, Oakland Mills 25, Atholton 18
In the quad match at Willow Springs, Caleb Taylor set the pace with an even-par round of 27 points, while the Marriotts Ridge duo of Daniel Tuma (two-over, 25 points) and Justin Allen (24) were right behind him.
MR: Daniel Tuma 25, Justin Allen 24.
G: Caleb Taylor 27, Roggen King 19.
OM: Mason Cowell 15, Alex Tamai 10.
A: Ivan Cho 13, West Peterson 5.
River Hill 82, Hammond 42
Robbie Graham led the way with 23 points for a Hawks’ team that had three players score 20 or better.
RH: Graham 23, Regan 22, Deiuliis 20, Campbell 17.
Ha: Liguori 17, Hewitt 14, DeLeon 11, Walls 10.
Wilde Lake 41, Long Reach 20, Howard 13, Mt. Hebron 8
A career-high 27 points (even par) from Henry Hilger led the way for the Wildecats in a quad match at the Timbers at Troy.
WL: Henry Hilger 27, Evan Schneider 14.
LR: Garrett Watt 12, Ian Rullman 8.
Ho: Matt O’Connor 8, John Collins 5.
MH: Gavin Fleck 6, Nick Machiran 2.
Centennial 90, Reservoir 63
The Eagles achieved their best team score of the year, with sophomore Dustin Stocksdale posting an even-par round of 27 points to lead the way at Fairway Hills.
C: Dustin Stocksdale 27, Conarie Steinbach 23, Max Middleton 22, Spencer Haythorn 18.
Re: Justin Gutierrez 21, John Welch 21, Ty Karbacki 11, Kyle Ecker 10.
Glenelg 43, Marriotts Ridge 29, Oakland Mills 6
Freshman Megan Kirkpatrick continued her standout first high school season by posting a one-over-par round of 26 points to lead all female golfers at Willow Springs on Wednesday.
G: Megan Kirkpatrick 26, Ally Abruscato 17.
MR: Alana Alexander-Giles 20, Charlene Pak 9.
Helen Yeung finished with a match-high 25 points to lead the way for the Hawks in the match at Hobbits Glen.
RH: Yeung 25, Sandhu 15, Herrera 9, Simran 4.
Reservoir 46, Centennial 28
Re: Riyanna Patel 15, Payton Pullen 15, Kate Abunassar 10, Leilla Withers 6.
C: Sanika Shah 15, Sussie Park 9, Cloe Moon 4.
Wilde Lake 21, Mt. Hebron 3
WL: Clare Bowen 13, Lindsay Sands 8.
MH: Claire Smith 2, Kate Kwong 1.
The Hawks claimed at least a share of the county championship with their win over the Lions. Lindsey Miller and Laura Mason both scored for River Hill (8-1), while Quill Alewine and Claire Slade both registered assists. The Hawks’ defense was stout throughout, allowing only one shot on goal. Howard (2-6), meanwhile, was led by goalie Rachel Murphy’s 12 saves.
The win is the Hawks’ second straight. Shelly Chamness’ squad opened the season with six straight victories before losing to Glenelg (7-2) last week. River Hill can clinch the outright county championship with a win over Reservoir on April 15. However, if the Hawks lose and the Gladiators beat Marriotts Ridge, Glenelg and River Hill will share the county crown.
Goals: RH — Lindsey Miller, Laura Mason.
Assists: RH — Quill Alewine, Claire Slade.
Saves: RH — Joceyln Baker 1; Ho — Rachel Murphy 12.
The Gladiators remained in the county championship hunt with the win over Mt. Hebron (3-5). Freshman Ashley Kim scored twice to lead Glenelg (7-2). Freshman Kam Henson and senior Sarah Kang also scored for the Gladiators. The win keeps Glenelg one game behind River Hill (8-1) with one game remaining. If River Hill loses to Reservoir and Glenelg beats Marriotts Ridge on April 15, the Gladiators and the Hawks will share the county title. But if the Hawks win or the Gladiators lose, River Hill will be the outright champion.
Goals: G — Ashley Kim 2, Sarah Kang, Kam Henson; MH — N/A.
Assists: G — Henson, AJ Eyre.
Saves: G — Rachel Barker 12; MH — N/A 4.
Marriotts Ridge 3, Reservoir 1
The Mustangs snapped their three-game losing streak with the win over the Gators. Three different Marriotts Ridge (4-5) players scored in the win — Ella Walchko, Maisy Clevenger and Kaylie Savage. Goalie Amanda Windsor tallied four saves. Sophie Periera scored the only goal for Reservoir (1-6).
Goals: MR — Ella Walchko, Maisy Clevenger, Kaylie Savage; Re — Sophie Periera.
Assists: MR — Julie Lawler, Sophia Baxter.
Saves: MR — Amanda Windsor 4; Re — Isabella Brown 9.
The Raiders improved to 7-2 with the close win, while the Lightning fell to 2-7 with the loss. Asha Derstine scored off an assist from Bella Konrad for the game’s only goal in the first half.
Centennial 8, Wilde Lake 0
The win is the ninth straight for the undefeated Eagles. Centennial has now outscored its opponents 79-0 on the season. Wilde Lake fell to 5-4 with the loss.