Watching the top-ranked Arundel volleyball team, it can sometimes seem as if you're seeing double-O.
Senior twin sisters Allie and Brittany Orr are the reason why. Outside hitter Allie contributed 24 kills and seven digs, while Brittany contributed 23 assists from her setter position to power host Arundel over No. 9 St. Paul's, 24-26, 25-21, 25-17, 31-29, in a key early-season showdown.
Both teams' coaches had spoken in the offseason about finding and playing better competition in their nonleague matches. Both got their wish Tuesday.
The Wildcats, whose lone loss each of the past two seasons came in the Class 4A state title game, were pushed from the beginning by an energetic St. Paul's (1-2) team. The Gators, who lost their best player, junior Jillian Randolph, to an anterior cruciate ligament tear on Friday at Broadneck, gave Arundel all it could handle.
St. Paul's "really pushed us, and that's exactly what I wanted," Wildcats coach Ashley Yuscavage said. "I wanted to see what would happen when we got down, how we'd react. I can only imagine what it would have been like if they had Jillian."
The match started well for the Gators, who outhit Arundel throughout a set that was tied 12 times. With the Wildcats looking to close out the set at 24-21, St. Paul's used the service of freshman Jala Tucker to go on a 5-0 run and take the set.
Arundel trailed much of the second set before evening the score late, at 19-19. Key kills by Allie Orr and Kate Shea powered the Wildcats to the win after a 6-2 run.
The third set was Arundel's again, with the Wildcats leading throughout before recording a 25-17 win.
Arundel led most of a competitive fourth set, but the Gators would not go away. St. Paul's fought off two match points before finally falling, 31-29, when a kill by Shea was blocked by St. Paul's Bella Pivec (eight blocks), only to trickle out of bounds.
"We started off a little frazzled and a little confused, but we responded," Allie Orr said. "This is a new team with a new dynamic this year, and once we got it going, we were OK."
Given the injury to Randolph, St. Paul's coach Kelli Wilkinson was proud of her team's effort.
"Losing Jillian made us change our whole offense with one day of practice," Wilkinson said. "We came here and played well. We weren't intimidated. Our goal is to just get better every match, and I think we did that here."