Damascus senior setter Carly Marella knew that this would be the night. She just had a feeling.
Over the first three years of her varsity career, Marella and the Swarmin’ Hornets had not beaten No. 3 Sherwood.
They watched the Warriors win three straight Maryland 4A state championships and 68 consecutive best-of-five matches.
“This was the night we were going to beat Sherwood,” fellow four-year varsity player Annika Schwartz said. “We were all thinking that.”
As Schwartz’s final kill bounced off the hardwood Thursday night, those thoughts dissolved into reality.
The Swarmin’ Hornets stormed the court at Sandy Spring after finally toppling their Montgomery County rivals in five sets, 25-19, 25-23, 28-30, 21-25, 15-6.
Schwartz led Damascus (11-1, 4-1 Montgomery Blue) with 21 kills, her last the result of a little extra oomph.
After Sherwood dug out Schwartz’s first attack, Marella set the ball for the senior outside hitter again.
“I’ve got to hit it harder,” Schwartz thought. “I’ve got to hit this ball harder. This one has to go down. No more. I’m finishing this.”
While Damascus celebrated, the Warriors (16-2, 5-0 Montgomery Red) circled in the middle of the court, many with tears in their eyes. Though they lost to Tuscarora (Md.) in a best-of-three match at the Magruder Invitational this year, they had not lost a best-of-five match since Nov. 6, 2009.
“I told them don’t worry about it,” Sherwood Coach Brian McCarty said. “The streak was never a focus at the beginning of the season, I don’t think it should be a focus for us at the end of the season. I just told this team, ‘Let’s focus on what we can do with our season this year.’ ”
When Damascus took the first two sets, they cheered and stomped their feet. When Sherwood battled back to capture the third set, and then tied the match at two sets apiece, Damascus cheered even louder.
Sherwood’s student section tried to rattle the Swarmin’ Hornets throughout the match by cheering during their serves, frustrating visiting parents. At the end of the night, it didn’t matter.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking, but I knew it was our time to shine,” Marella said. “It was our year.”