Midway through the second game in Monday’s Class 4A volleyball title match, Arundel and Sherwood had played a total of 70 points. They had each won 35, and it was anyone’s match.
But it was Sherwood that pulled away, grabbing the final two sets to sweep Arundel and claim its third consecutive state championship.
The powerhouse from Montgomery County dominated most of the second game and the third, led by senior Alex Holston’s 25 kills. Sherwood won 27-25, 25-14, 25-13.
For Arundel, it was the third straight year with a season-ending loss to Sherwood. But it was perhaps the team’s strongest showing out of those three contests, as it actually held a set point in the first game before losing the last three points (two of which came on convincing kills by Holston.)
“Had we continued to play like we did in the first game it would have been a totally different night,” Arundel head coach Ashley Yuscavage said.
The Wildcats did not allow the close first game loss affect them entering the second. The team jumped out to an early lead and was ahead 10-8, before Sherwood appeared to take control.
“I think that rather than looking at the points in the first game, we were feeling the momentum and knowing we were playing good,” said junior setter Brittany Orr. “We knew we were all playing well as a team together.”
But maintaining intensity against the defending state champions proved hard, as Sherwood went on a 17-4 run to claim the second set and control of the match. Time and again, the Wildcats found themselves victimized by the lanky Holston, who scored kills from all over the floor.
“You just have to read her arm and it goes down pretty fast,” senior Lily Glenn said. “When you get under one, it’s a pretty good feeling. You just have to stay low.”
The Wildcats defended decently against Holston, securing 30 digs and five successful blocks. But she proved why she is widely considered one of the best volleyball talents in the state, if not the nation.
“She’s clearly a really strong player,” said Yuscavage, who joked that she was "excited" to see Holston move on to college. “Everything she did out there she did well.”
Despite the loss, the Wildcats have clearly established themselves as a volleyball force in Maryland after reaching the state final four each of the last three years.
“I think we had a really good season, especially since people doubted us when we lost people,” senior Ashlee Felton said. “We came back to the same exact spot we were last year without any of the people we lost. I’m proud of our season.”