Perry Hall volleyball coach Pam Wilt had waited 10 years. Five of her starters had waited all of their high school years.
Finally, they got their wish with last night's three-game victory over Western, which sends the No. 3 Gators to their first appearance in the state final four playoffs.
After falling behind 7-0 in the first game, the Gators (16-1) allowed the Doves (14-2) only seven more points the rest of the way. They closed out the match, 15-8, 15-3, 15-3 in the Class 4A, Region II championship last night at Perry Hall.
The Gators will play their first state semifinal game Tuesday night at Watkins Mill in Montgomery County.
"I've been close a few times, and this feels really good," said Wilt. "My kids deserve it. They worked hard and I'm happy they got it even though the plaque stays in my office."
Last year, the Gators barely missed a trip to the final four, falling in five close games to Laurel. Wilt's five seniors, Lori Johnson, Tracy Morgan, Hee Lim, Patricia Ysern and Jessica Lockwood, decided then that they would win it this year.
"We wanted it last year," said setter Ysern, "and we wanted to make up for it this year. We had to do it now, because [we] wouldn't get another chance."
Against overmatched Western, the Gators seniors demonstrated a balanced offense with 19 kills from six players. Johnson led the Gators with five kills while Lim, Morgan and Lockwood had four each. Ysern was near perfect in her assists.
Even though the Gators struggled a bit early in the match, they never let it get out of control. They hadn't forgotten the three-game loss to Loch Raven last Saturday in the Baltimore County championships.
"Losing made us realize we were beatable and we knew we had to play hard," Morgan said.