Beating a team three times in one season can be tricky. Fourth-ranked Glenelg (15-4), however, found the third time to be somewhat easier against visiting Oakland Mills, as the Gladiators defeated the Scorpions, 15-6, 15-13, 15-11, to win the Class 2A South Region championship.
Glenelg, having captured its only state volleyball title two years ago, advances to Tuesday's Class 2A state semifinal at Catonsville High School, with the winner playing in the 2A title game next Saturday at noon at Catonsville Community College.
Coach Marlene Janis' Gladiators twice had beaten rival Oakland Mills (9-10), but the victories were anything but easy. Glenelg especially struggled in the last match, fending off the Scorpions, 15-7, 15-2, 10-15, 13-15, 16-14.
"When we played them late in the season, we played just well enough to win. But here we knew it we lose, you're out," said Janis. "That makes it easy to get focused."
In yesterday's match, Glenelg rebounded from a 4-2 deficit in the first game against Oakland Mills by scoring 12 straight points to take a 14-4 advantage. Gladiator sophomore Pam Goldberg served the game winner.
Oakland Mills, as had happened during the regular-season showdowns with Glenelg, displayed its resilience in Game 2 by jumping out to a 9-1 lead. Glenelg turned to senior hitter Elisa Davidson, and she responded in the clutch.
"We've learned to stay calm in those situations," Davidson said. "Early in the season, we would have panicked down 9-1 and lost the game."
Davidson (18 kills, eight assists, three aces) stopped Oakland Mills' 8-0 run with a resounding spike, which was assisted by sophomore setter Amber Rieg (21 assists). The Gladiators then reeled off a 10-3 burst. Glenelg freshman Jamie Bullock's dink knotted the score at 12 as the Gladiators went on to prevail, with Goldberg again serving the winner.
"As much respect as I have for Elisa, I think it was our serving that took us out of it," said Oakland Mills coach Kim Rosado.
"Our serving against Hammond was 90 to 95 percent. Today, it had to be down to 82 percent, and it is critical to get those serves in."
Down two games, Oakland Mills fell behind 6-1 in the third game before clawing back as Scorpion sophomore Lindsey McElroy's well-placed dink tied the score at 7. Oakland Mills went on to take a 10-7 lead only to watch Glenelg surge back in front 14-11. Davidson closed out Oakland Mills' longest postseason run with a kill.