Top-ranked Arundel won a backyard brawl Thursday night by defeating a scrappy Eleanor Roosevelt volleyball team, 25-20, 25-15, 25-18, in the state Class 4A volleyball semifinals at Ritchie Coliseum. Now the Wildcats (19-0) will see whether they can knock out the neighborhood bully for the state championship.
The bully comes in the form of Sherwood. The Warriors are winners of 56 straight matches and have ended Arundel's season the past two years — in the state semifinals in 2010 and the state championship last year. That match will be played at 8 p.m. Monday night at Ritchie Coliseum.
On Thursday, Shannon Kelly and Allison Orr led Arundel with 10 kills each, and Brittany Orr contributed 34 assists. Meya Ngumdam paced Eleanor Roosevelt (17-1) with nine kills.
"We're excited about the chance to play Sherwood again," Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said. "This group has been ready to take on this challenge for a long time."
Arundel played pensively early in the first set, falling behind 10-7. The Wildcats then went on a 13-point run to take a 20-10 lead. The Raiders mounted a charge of their own, but the Wildcats held off the rally and took the set 25-20. Arundel asserted its dominance in the last two sets, winning 25-15 and 25-18.
"We started a little slow in the beginning and we fought to keep our game up," Arundel junior Brittany Orr said. "We had a little bit of anxiety coming out, but then we started talking and communicating.
This version of the Wildcats is a slimmed-down, less power-oriented team than in the past two seasons. They win with teamwork and communication, and they will need every bit of that and more to beat Sherwood.
Yuscavage said that while people try to compare this year's team to the others before it, the current group is distinct. She hopes that will give it an edge in Monday's championship.
"Other people are concerned about who has left. These girls are not," she said. "They are a good group, and I know they'll be ready to go [in the final]."
Added Allison Orr, Britney's twin sister: "This has always been a goal ours to play Sherwood again. I know that we are excited for the chance to meet them again."
In Thursday's first game, Sherwood (18-0) defeated Walter Johnson, 25-13, 25-21, 18-25, 25-12.
Sherwood, as it has been the past two years, was led by Alex Holston (37 kills). Holston, who will play volleyball next season at Florida, tied the state single-match record for kills set by Elisa Davidson of Glenelg in 1995. Brigid Morris led Walter Johnson (16-3) with 14 kills.
Though the Warriors controlled the match, Walter Johnson played them tough. Sherwood had some trouble at the net with Wildcats defenders Stephanie Paul and Kristen Larrick.
Walter Johnson was one of only two teams to take a set against Sherwood this season.