Two years ago, when Brittany Orr was a freshman starter for No. 8 Arundel, the Wildcats’ season ended with a loss to Sherwood in the Maryland 4A semifinals. Last year, Orr and the Wildcats made it to the state final before falling again to Sherwood.
This season, armed with the experience of two years’ worth of playoff disappointments, Arundel (9-0) is off to a hot start once more and has its sights set on a deep postseason run.
“Freshman year it seemed like such a crazy goal to set, going to states,” Orr said. “I think now we’re really determined and really focused on doing the best that we can and going as far as we can. Being there has made us a lot more motivated to get there again.
“It [stinks] going to states and not being able to finish on top.”
Orr, a three-year starter alongside her twin sister Allie, is one of three team captains this year. She said that while the chemistry she’s built with her teammates over the past three years will be an asset as the Wildcats move forward, she’s taken on a new role helping her newer teammates get ready for the high-pressure situations to come.
“Experience is a really big part of it, but we try to make it like every game is a big game,” she said. “Just making sure that every game is intense, so when it does get super intense in the games, no one’s nervous or feels under pressure or anything like that, that everyone’s confident with themselves. But a lot of it’s from simple experience. I don’t know, you can’t learn everything from what we say.”
But in Whitmire’s first three seasons of varsity volleyball, she shied away from the spotlight as much as possible.
Now in her senior season, the explosive outside hitter and JMU recruit is relishing her role as go-to hitter and the Titans (12-5) are enjoying one of their best seasons to date as a result.
“Last year she was uncomfortable in that role. She didn’t want to be the star, and she didn’t want to feel the pressure of carrying the team on her back,” T.C. Williams Coach Michael Burch said. “This year she wants that. When a match gets close, she’s telling us ‘don’t set to anybody but me.’”
Whitmire pounded out 36 kills in Tuesday’s four-set loss at Yorktown to bring her area-best total to 401, but it’s her willingness to mix in tips and rolls with the big blasts from the outside that have helped her significantly boost her efficiency and, in turn, the Titans’ record. And Whitmire’s play has spread throughout the lineup as senior hitter Sydney Trout and junior libero Savannah Devereux are also enjoying career seasons.
“Kate gives our team a little bit of confidence,” Burch said. “We know that if we’re in a tough spot, she can get us out of it.”
T.C. Williams has already surpassed its 2011 win total (8) and one year after going winless at their own mid-season tournament, the Titans swept the field at the Titan Clash last month. Despite their current three-match skid, which included a 3-1 loss to West Springfield and a 3-2 loss to Lake Braddock, the Titans remain the lone Virginia AAA Patriot District team to knock off No. 9 W.T. Woodson and are still eying a top-four seed for the upcoming district tournament. The Titans have never won a volleyball title at the district, region or state level.
“It’s all just serving and passing and both of those things broke down for us [against Yorktown]. I’m hoping this is an anomaly,” Burch said. “We have to beat South County coming up, but if we can win out, that will put us in a good position for the playoffs.”....
With a thrilling come-from-behind, 23-25, 20-25, 25-10, 25-21, 15-11 win against Westfield on Tuesday, Langley (14-3) extended its win streak to eight and continued its annual dominance in the month of October.
The Saxons are 3-0 since the calendar turned with a pair of dramatic five-set wins, and dating back to 2008, they boast a 32-5 mark in October matches. But one team has stood between Langley and a perfect month each of the last four seasons — No. 2 Stone Bridge, which owns the last four Liberty District regular season and tournament titles. The Saxons will look to snap their eight-match skid against the two-time defending Northern Region champion when they host the Bulldogs in their regular season finale on Oct. 25.
Centennial dropped its first sets of the season but held on to beat River Hill in five sets on Tuesday.... Sherwood remains undefeated and hasn’t lost a set since a 3-1 win against Broadneck Sept. 6. Flint Hill held its own at the Garden State Challenge in New Jersey over the weekend before falling to eventual finalist Ward-Melville (N.Y.).
(Records through Tuesday.)
1. Sherwood (9-0) LW: 1
2. Stone Bridge (16-0) LW: 2
3. Loudoun County (13-1) LW: 3
4. Centennial (8-0) LW: 5
5. Flint Hill (18-2) LW: 4
6. Holy Cross (16-1) LW: 6
7. Damascus (9-0) LW: 7
8. Arundel (9-0) LW: 8
9. W.T. Woodson (12-3) LW: 9
10. Magruder (14-0) LW: 10