The Class 2A state championship game figured to be a battle between two evenly matched teams. Glenelg and Mackenzie Calhoun made sure it wasn’t.
The ninth-ranked Gladiators (18-6), behind an incredible 27 kills from Calhoun, made it look easy, defeating No. 8 Century (15-4) in straight sets — 25-13, 25-19, 25-17 — at Harford Community College on Wednesday.
The championship is the fifth for the program but the first since 2005. It is also the first for ninth-year Glenelg coach Jason Monjes, who has come close before but failed to lift the trophy until now.
“We knew it would come down to who played their game tonight, and I think it’s fair to say that we played more our game than they did,” said Monjes. “We served outstanding tonight, and we were able to take Century out of system. We definitely saved our best for last.”
The Gladiators held a slim 13-11 lead in the first set when they began to assert themselves. Two aces by Sarah Parker and three consecutive kills by Calhoun sparked a 7-0 run and extended the lead to 20-11. After a kill by Century’s Uchechi Mba, Glenelg scored five of the next six points to take the set, 25-13.
Calhoun came alive in the second set. With the score tied at 2, the sophomore put down five consecutive kills as Glenelg built a 9-3 lead. Century never got closer than six points in the remainder of the set, and the Gladiators cruised to a 25-19 victory. Calhoun went on to record 10 kills in the frame.
Century showed some fight in the third set, taking an 8-7 lead on an ace from Eva Brandt, who finished with 11 kills to lead the Knights.
But Glenelg stormed back, using two kills by Calhoun and one by Sarah Parker for a 12-8 lead. Century got as close a four, 18-14, but three more kills by Calhoun allowed the Gladiators to pull away. Glenelg fittingly won the match on a Lindsay Kelly ace, setting off a wild celebration 16 years in the making.
“We’ve really developed as a team this year,” said Monjes. “Sometimes having younger players is a good thing because ignorance is bliss. I get so into this, but I’ve learned that I have to step back and let them play. They certainly did that today.”
Century, the defending state champion as there was no state tournament in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, struggled to find a rhythm all day. Each time the Knights would rally, the Gladiators seemed to have an answer.
“Congratulations to Glenelg. It was just their day today,” said Century coach Brian Trumbo. “We generally go on some runs during our matches, and we couldn’t do that today. They kept siding us out. They had some players who needed to step up big on this stage, and they certainly did in this match.”