It will be hard for Marriotts Ridge to remain overlooked after Thursday night.
The Mustangs left no doubt on the court and dominated Glenelg in a straight-set victory, 25-12, 25-21, 25-18, to remain the only undefeated team in Howard County.
The victory was also the 200th for coach Jamie Bullock.
“When we started the season, I was kind of like, I think we can do this, and now watching them tonight, I know we can,” Bullock said. “And I think that this is the confidence builder that they needed to be able to push hard for the rest of the season.”
Freshman Rhisen Davis, who had six kills and two blocks, has only been part of seven of Bullock’s career wins but said the team got extra motivation yesterday when Bullock told the players of the approaching milestone. Getting it against Glenelg (3-1 county, 4-3 overall), her alma mater and one of the best team in the area, made it even more special.
“It’s a really big one. It’s our coach’s 200th win, so we really tried to fight not only for her but for our whole team,” Davis said. “It’s crazy how we push ourselves so hard and we’re just so proud of ourselves. We all work together.”
Bullock doesn’t hide the fact that she’s tough on her players. She’s stoic on the sidelines, no matter the result, and her practices are for getting better. But it’s on nights like these, Davis said, that the tough love pays off.
“Our coach always tells us that we can be better and I think it’s really paid off, and I’m so thankful for our coach because she’s just been pushing us and pushing us to be better,” she said. “And I know that she’s always right.”
Marriotts Ridge (4-0, 7-0) came out of the gates swinging. Of the first 14 points it scored in the first set, 13 came via kill, block or ace, and the Mustangs never looked back. They closed the stanza on a 10-1 run and got a kill, block or ace from eight different players. Davis and Katie Trenchard led the way with four kills apiece, while junior setter and team captain Brenna O’Reilly, who served during the big run and pitched in with an ace, had 15 of her 33 assists in the set.
“I’m not sure where it came from,” Bullock admitted. “I think that we’re always a team that maybe is overlooked, that people aren’t ready for us.”
Glenelg responded early in the second and took an early 5-1 lead only to see Marriotts Ridge answer with its own 5-1 run. The Gladiators’ energy, however, disappeared when junior middle blocker Gracen Alsheimer slipped on the court and hit the deck. She left the game a few points later and did not return with an injured right knee.
Marriotts Ridge took advantage. A kill by Trenchard tied the score at 16 and another cut Glenelg’s lead to 21-20 and sparked a Marriotts Ridge 6-0 run to close out the set and take a 2-0 advantage.
“I thought we started off pretty well in the second set and then, obviously, once you lose one of your key starters, it’s really hard to try to recover from that,” Gladiators coach Jason Monjes said.
Glenelg made one last push early in the third set with a 5-1 run to cut the deficit to 10-9, but the Mustangs wouldn’t relinquish the lead. Back-to-back kills by Rachel George and Trenchard and an ace by Julia Mamo two points later ignited a 6-0 run pushed the lead to seven. The Gladiators staved off three match points to keep the score from looking worse than it was.
Trenchard had four kills in each set to finish with a team-high 12, while Mamo added eight with two aces. Rheign Davis also had eight kills.
Marriotts Ridge has lost just one set so far this season, though Bullock admitted this was the first real test of the season. After the way her team took down the Gladiators, though, she knows her team will be ready for the difficult road ahead.