Dulaney breaks open close first set and rolls to volleyball victory over host Catonsville

After the first 30 points of the volleyball match at Catonsville High, the host Comets (5-3) were tied, 15-15, with unbeaten Dulaney.

It looked like a back-and-forth match was in the works and it would go down to the wire on Pink Out night at Catonsville.

The Lions (8-0) had other ideas.

They won 10 of the next 11 points and rolled in the final two sets for a 25-16, 25-19, 25-13 victory.

Trailing 11-10, Catonsville’s Gabby Douglas’ serve nipped the top of the net and dribbled to the floor for an ace.

Her next ace to the deep corner put the Comets up 12-11, but a kill Dulaney’s Nancy Slaughter made it 12-12.

An ace from Aja Irving sparked a Dulaney run, but consecutive aces by Catonsville’s Maddie McLean tied the score at 15-all.

The Comets thought they won the next point, but a net violation gave it to the Lions and they never looked back.

Leading 18-16, Dulaney’s Rose Vail (team-high 10 kills) got a point hitting through the Comets block for a side out.

Senior setter Kathryn Parler took over on the service line and served out the final six points as the Comets struggled with accuracy on serve receive.

“It was frustrating because we work on passing every single day in practice,” Catonsville coach Tonya Feaster said. “However, I think some of our key passers today were just off and it really hurt us in running our offense, because a lot of the times our sets were off because we weren’t pushing the ball to the net.”

What frustrated the Comets even more in the second set was the play of 6-foot-1 sophomore middle hitter Lucy Liu.

She broke 3-3 and 4-4 ties with tips over the net and made it 6-4 with a block.

She finished with six kills, including a couple on sets from Parler (17 assists).

“My setter was doing really well today,” said Liu, who didn’t pound her hits with a lot of authority. “When I hit it too hard, I hit it out sometimes, so I try to control that and it works out most of the time.”

The sophomore in the middle has given the attack another dimension, along with outside hitter Vail.

“She gets so up so high,” Dulaney coach Cary Lyon said. “She was getting kills right down the middle. You don’t get kills down the middle, you get blocked down the middle.”

Catonsville hung around in the second set because the Lions missed six serves,

Trailing 19-13, the Comets scored three straight points, spearheaded by a pair of aces from Emily Bennett.

But the Lions rallied with three kills and a block by Vail that helped them close it out.

Catonsville’s key weapon in the match was senior libero Brooke Mariner, who saved some balls from hitting the floor with acrobatic digs.

“She’s a hard worker,” Feaster said. “Brooke amazes me with some of the plays that she makes. This year, I just keep continuing to encourage her to be more and more vocal and to have more confidence in herself, so that she can run our offense with her passing as well as getting to every ball that she can.”

Nobody’s defense could control the wicked serves of Vail in the final set.

She had four aces during a 6-0 run that helped the Lions pull away.

“I have her always going in an attack serve because that is what is going to confound teams because nobody ever sees that,” Lyon said. “She did that and she had a few aces that hit the floor and they didn’t even touch the ball.”

When the Comets did start the offense with a good pass, the Lions were ready.

“The few times they did get rhythm, we actually blocked them a few times and I think that got into their head a little bit,” Lyon said.

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