South Carroll’s trek to the Class 1A state semifinals was bound to be met with a few potholes along the way. Instead, the Cavaliers ran into a mountain.
Washington County’s Williamsport, a 15-time state champion, jumped all over South Carroll early and never let up in a 25-9, 25-22, 25-8 thumping of the Cavaliers at Harford Community College on Tuesday afternoon.
Mackenzie Pryor led Williamsport (16-2) with 16 kills, while Reagan Morris chipped in 10. South Carroll (10-8) was led by Ava Fogle’s five kills and libero Cali Kalishek’s 13 digs.
The Wildcats will try to extend their state record for titles on Thursday at 5 p.m. when they face Mountain Ridge of Allegany County in the Class 1A championship.
“We knew they were tough, but we knew we could compete with them,” said South Carroll coach Brad Kutzler. “We faced some tough competition during the season, so it’s not like we hadn’t seen that before. It just wasn’t our day.”
Things started out relatively well for the Cavaliers when they got a kill by middle hitter Sam Rice to go up 5-3 in the first set. Unfortunately, the deficit seemed to motivate Williamsport, which then went on a 17-0 run behind the serving of Ally Foltz to take a 20-5 lead.
The Cavs got behind 7-0 in the second set, but then played their best volleyball of the match. South Carroll got a service ace from Lilly Sellers, a block from Emily Trail and two kills by Fogle to cut the deficit to 9-8. The Cavs even outplayed Williamsport in the middle of the set and held a 16-13 lead at one point.
Williamsport tied the second set a 17 on a Morris kill and then went on a 7-2 run to take a 24-19 lead. Although the Cavaliers rallied again, they could get no closer than 25-22 in the second set.
“I tried to motivate them [after the second set]. I kept telling them we’re not done yet and their hard work would pay off,” said Kutzler. “Give Williamsport credit, though. That’s a very good team, and they showed it today.”
The third set was all Williamsport. The Wildcats jumped out to a 13-4 lead and never trailed in the set before taking the set and the match with a 25-8 victory.
“I think we started hitting to empty spots on the court [in the third set] as opposed to at someone,” said Williamsport’s Morris. “That’s much harder to defend. We started trusting each other more, which is something we weren’t doing in the second set.”
Although the disappointment was apparent from South Carroll, Kalishek saw a bright side in their postseason run.
“Our program hasn’t been [to the state tournament] since 2008,” Kalishek said. “I know I never expected to make it as far as we did. Winning a regional title is a big accomplishment and it’s something we should all be proud of.”