For the second time in as many matches, Reservoir volleyball went the distance and came out on top.
Against North Hagerstown on Monday in a Class 3A state semifinal at Harford Community College, the No. 2 Gators won the first two sets and bounced back after dropping the next two to earn a 3-2 victory with a 15-12 triumph in the decisive fifth set.
The win, the team’s 15th straight, advances the Gators into the state championship match at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Huntingtown, which swept Bel Air in the other semifinal.
It’s the first state final appearance for Reservoir since winning the title in 2007.
“It is the greatest feeling. We said from Day 1 what our goals were and that we wanted to put three banners [county, region and state] on the wall. They are just so determined,” said Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante, whose team beat Howard, 3-2, in the state quarterfinals last week. “We had moments where we didn’t play our best tonight and the other team was very solid, but we never gave up and we never quit.
“We never shut down when we faced adversity.”
Reservoir (17-1) prevailed by scores of 25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 23-25 and 15-12.
Howard County Times: Top stories
After trailing 1-0 and 2-1 in that road meeting against Howard last week, the Gators set the tone against a North Hagerstown team that hadn’t dropped a single set in its first three postseason matches.
But with the Gators up two sets to none, the Hubs answered. North Hagerstown rebounded to take the third and fourth sets, both by narrow margins, to force the winner-take-all fifth frame.
It was there that Reservoir dug down and extended its season. A couple of big blocks by Anjola Omolewa (three kills, five blocks) provided a spark and Samiha Foster (34 kills, nine digs) helped lead the offensive effort that closed out the win.
“Honestly, we knew what was killing us the previous games and we just needed to really hone in and focus on the tips and rolls,” Foster said. “Something ignited in us. Our team seems to thrive on needing to be really gritty at the end.”
In addition to Omolewa and Foster, Reservoir was also led in the victory by Gabby Allen (19 digs, five assists), Maddie Beckett (four kills), Madison Hill (six kills, three aces, five digs, two blocks), Kelsey Holmes (seven kills, four digs), Haley Ko (23 assists, 10 digs), Lexi Lee (nine digs), Destiny Olamide (four kills, three digs) and Jess Rothermel (28 assists, six digs).
Foster said she and her teammates can’t wait for Wednesday.
“We are just so hungry for this,” she said. “From Day 1, we knew that this was our goal and we are ready to put it all out there.”