HOWARD COUNTY, MD — Williamsport came out of the gates firing and never looked back to beat Glenelg in straight sets, 25-11, 25-13, 25-14, to win the 2A state championship Monday night at University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.
It’s the 15th state title for the Wildcats (14-5), who broke a tie with Centennial for the most in state history, and first since 2016.
“I feel extremely proud of this group of girls this year,” said Williamsport coach Karen Moyer. “It’s really, really special when you have a group of girls and you get to see the progression over the course of a season, the challenges and the struggles, and then have the glory of overcoming that.”
For the No. 2 Gladiators (17-2), who were looking to win their first state title since 2005 and sixth overall, it’s their first loss since a 3-0 defeat to Atholton on Oct. 9 and snaps a nine-match winning streak. They fell in championship game for the sixth time and first since 2014.
“We knew that the team that stayed most in character to their style of play would win,” Glenelg coach Jason Monjes said. “I know our girls are disappointed with what the result was but they can’t overlook the season we had this year.”
The Gladiators struggled from the outset and never led until early in the third set. They found themselves in a 6-0 hole in the first set, and the deficit ballooned to 10-2 soon after.
Moyer said the team’s goal before the match was to set the tone early and win the first point to steal the momentum, and kills by four different players in the 6-0 run accomplished that.
“I think we definitely felt the momentum, and that was definitely our goal,” she said. “We didn’t start with the serve, and our goal was to side-out so we could get the momentum and kind of take it from there.”
Added senior outside hitter Keara Lewis: “From the very beginning when we took those first six points, we always said we want the first set and we want the first point in general. And when we do that that’s a big momentum shift for us right off the bat.”
The rest of the opening frame went much like the beginning. Williamsport built leads of 14-3 and 19-4 and cruised to take a 1-0 advantage.
The second set didn’t go much better for Glenelg. The Wildcats led, 5-3, before going on a 7-0 run that forced Monjes to use both of his timeouts, and they slowly added to their lead like they did in the first stanza. Another blowout set-victory ensued.
Moyer said her team’s serving was the biggest strength against on Monday night. That also helped in other areas, such as passing, since Glenelg struggled to find a rhythm and sent over a number of free balls. Williamsport finished with 12 aces to just five service errors.
“We served extremely competitively,” Moyer said. “We had a number of service runs with a number of aces in there, which I think was really key. I think our passing game was really on point, which helps us execute our offense.”
The Gladiators got off to a much better start in the third frame and took their only lead of the match, but the Wildcats didn’t trail for long. Facing their biggest deficit at 8-5, they answered by winning seven straight points and 18 of the next 21 to turn it into a blowout.
Lewis finished with a game-high 10 kills, while sophomore middle blocker Gracen Alsheimer led Glenelg with five.
“I think we were our own enemy tonight,” said Gladiators senior setter Maddie Southern. “I think we got in our heads. We just couldn’t stay positive, I feel like. It was hard for everyone to keep everybody up, and I think that’s just what kind of let us get in those ruts and them to get on the long runs and win the game.”
After each player received their runner-up medals, Monjes gave each player a hug and shared a message with each one.
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“Obviously with the seniors, it was a little more emotional because it’s over for me and them. Pretty much the main point was you have nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “The season we had, losing two matches the whole year, that’s the best Glenelg team I’ve ever had in my [sixth] year, and nobody expected us to get this far. ... We had one spectacular run, it was just one match short.”