COLLEGE PARK - The Arundel volleyball team had its chances against Sherwood High on Saturday night.
Facing a tough and undefeated foe at Ritchie Coliseum, the Lady Wildcats held late leads in the first and second sets of the Class 4A championship match, but ultimately couldn’t hold on, falling 3-0 to suffer their only loss of the year.
It was the second straight state championship for Sherwood, which also beat Arundel in last year’s state semifinal.
“Sherwood is the best team we’re ever going to play,” said senior Ashlyn Tapley, who led Arundel with 10 kills. “When we got down, we didn’t know how to get up. In the beginning, we started strong, but couldn’t finish the end.”
All three sets were close, as the final tally was 25-21, 25-19, 25-19.
Arundel began strong, grabbing a 10-6 lead behind strong serving by senior Lindsay Tapley, Ashlyn’s twin sister. Sherwood chipped back to tie the match as 12-all after a kill by junior Alex Holston.
Holston, a junior, had 14 kills on the night to lead all players.
With the score tied 16-16, Sherwood went on a 5-0 run, but then Arundel reeled off 5 straight points of its own. But a key block gave Sherwood a 22-21 lead, and they held on to take the set.
In the second set, Arundel never trailed until Holston recorded two straight kills to give Sherwood a 20-19 lead. She’d record three more kills to help her team snag the last seven points of the set.
“I feel like, as a team, we can never play 25 points consistent the whole time,” Lindsay Tapley said. “We were playing really good, but we just sort of fell, and they took the lead.”
Arundel showed resilience in the third set, rallying from a 15-9 deficit to get within two points a 18-16. But Sherwood closed it out by winning seven of the last 10 points.
Sherwood was driven by a strong performance by Holston, whose lanky frame and range allowed her to record several kills from challenging positions. Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said they came in hoping to block Holston more, but were unsuccessful.
“I think if we had been able to block her, it would have been a different game,” Yuscavage said. “We’ve had an amazing season. No one wants to see it end this way, but we’ve had a really good season and I know I’m proud of everything we’ve done.”
This year’s Arundel team will go down as the most accomplished in school history, as no volleyball squad from Gambrills has ever gotten this close to a state title. Players said it will take a while to grasp the accomplishment, but they appeared to understand their role in reshaping the team from county also-ran to powerhouse.
“We’ve come so far,” senior Ashlyn Tapley said. “In the four years I’ve been here, the volleyball program has been completely turned around.”
NOTES: Sherwood had 41 kills, while Arundel finished with 24… Arundel’s Cassie Miller led all servers with three aces … Sherwood’s Maddie Moyer had 29 assists … Sydney West led all players with 10 digs for Sherwood.