The Broadneck volleyball team was one point away from putting away the match and getting over the hump against rival Arundel on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats, however, never stopped fighting.
Trailing by a score of 24-23 and behind 2-0 in sets, Arundel came back to tie and then eventually take the third set from the Bruins, 26-24. Then, using that momentum, the Wildcats kept rolling with wins in the fourth and decisive fifth set to down the guests, 3-2 [14-25, 22-25, 26-24, 26-24, 15-10], on Lee Rogers Court at Arundel.
“I think our passing was a little better, but I think we just didn’t give up on the balls we were giving up on in the first two sets,” Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said. “There was more of a fight there in our girls. [Broadneck is] good, so I think they were doing all the right things. We just weren’t able to get to their hits.”
The Bruins led from the opening serve in the first set and built the lead to 10 points multiple times before walking off the court with the 11-point victory to open the match. Senior Natalie Luscomb led the Bruins attack with six kills and five service points in the set.
In the ensuing set, the Wildcats led by as many as four points in the segment that had five ties before the Bruins took the lead for good at 19-18. A Luscomb kill notched the match point as Broadneck earned a three-point victory to take a 2-0 advantage.
Set No. 3 had the Bruins leading up until the 23-23 mark, as the Wildcats trailed by as many as nine points at 19-10, but the hosts went on a 13-4 run to knot the score. Broadneck scored the next point to be on the brink of defeating Arundel for the first time in 687 days, including losses in the state championship game in 2019 and also a 3-2 loss in the shortened season in April — another match in which Broadneck took a 2-0 lead before falling short.
Arundel (3-0) led for most of the fourth set and took a lead as high as six points. But Broadneck tied the set at 24-24 before dropping the next two points to fall, 26-24, and force the deciding fifth frame.
It was a see-saw battle in the initial stages of the final set, but the Wildcats pulled ahead 5-4 and staked themselves to a lead of four at 10-6 on an ace by senior Ashley Barnes. Senior Abby Niles later served the final two points to earn the match victory.
“I think the seniors just stepped up and said that they were going to take control of this, and they did,” Yuscavage said. “I was happy to see them fight multiple times when they were down, so I’m excited. It’s an exciting way to start off our season.”
The teams rolled out 10 players Tuesday that were involved in that memorable 2019 state championship match. With the Bruins and Wildcats in separate regions of the state tournament bracket again this fall, another state championship matchup is a possibility.
Zaria Ragler had 10 kills and Kiara Harmon added eight kills for the victors. Taylor Johnson added 29 digs and Alanna Quick contributed 20, while Abby Niles dished off 18 assists.
Broadneck coach Tracey Regalbuto admitted that despite the loss, she wasn’t disappointed and feels that the early season competition will only make her squad better as the season goes along.
“I feel like our end-of-season product is never what our start-of-the-season product is, so I don’t feel disappointed. It was a good game to watch,” Regalbuto said. “I’m just looking forward to the end of our season, where everything is tightened up and perfected as to what we want to do. It was a good game. We can only get better from it.”
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Luscomb (27 kills, 15 service points and two blocks), Bella Rubino (20 service points, 11 kills and nine digs), Valleigh Brechtel (19 digs and 14 service points) and Madeline Stewart (47 assists, 17 service points, 15 digs and six kills) were the statistical leaders for Broadneck.