COLLEGE PARK - Maybe the third time will be a charm.
Arundel High swept Eleanor Roosevelt High on the semifinals of the MPSSAA Class 4A volleyball tournament on Thursday night, and will face playoff nemesis Sherwood High for a third straight year.
Arundel, which moved to 19-0 on the year, overcame a nervous start to move past the Class 4A South champion Raiders in a match played at Ritchie Coliseum in College Park.
It will turn its sights Monday night to a Sherwood team that has won 56 games in a row after its own victory over Walter Johnson High on Thursday. Arundel lost to Sherwood in the state final last year and in the state semifinal in 2010.
"This is what we've been looking forward to since the beginning of August," senior Allie Orr said. "I think we're really excited."
Against Roosevelt, Arundel began with some uneasy play in the first game and found itself trailing 10-7. But the Wildcats reeled off a 13-0 run, then held off the Raiders for a 25-20 win. The first set was decided with a convicing kill by senior Ashlee Felton.
"I think we started off kind of slow and kind of jittery," junior Brittany Orr said. "We started to relax and get more consistent, and that's when we got some momentum."
The team played well into the second and secured a 25-15 victory, then took a tighter third game, 25-18.
Arundel got contributions from all over its roster, with Shannon Kelly and Allie Orr each securing 10 kills, while senior Gabrielle Bryant recorded six. Freshman Adrianna Hadloc was one of the team's strongest servers, while senior Ashley Felton had nine kills, a service ace and a point off a block. Setter Brittany Orr had 34 assists to go along with 4 digs.
Are the Wildcats playing well enough to beat Sherwood this time around? We'll see on Monday night.
"It's a challenge, and that's fun for us," Brittany Orr said. "That challenge is what we look forward to."