Sherwood girls' volleyball title comes together

A young Sherwood team defeated Thomas Johnson, 25-14, 25-22, 25-23, to win the state title at the University of Maryland on Nov. 22, 2010.
By James Wagner
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2010; 1:08 AM

With a four-point lead in the last set of a match that was never truly in doubt, Sherwood junior libero Sydney West looked to teammate, setter Maddie Moyer, and with her hands signaled all that was left: three. "We got this," West said.

Three more points and Sherwood, a versatile team with a promising future, would claim its second title in school history. And after a late scare by a scrappy Thomas Johnson, Warriors outside hitter Alex Holston drilled a ball down at a Patriot defender for the final point, a sweep of Thomas Johnson, 25-14, 25-22, 25-23, claiming the Maryland 4A state title at Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland on Monday.

Behind its strong front-line play, No. 10 Sherwood (19-0) took the opening set from the Patriots, who lost in the title game for the second time in three years. Holston, a powerful left-handed-hitter, notched seven kills in that frame and finished with 19 for the game. Junior Megan Hewitt, who emerged as a strong hitter in her own right at the urging of her coaches before the playoffs began, proved a capable second threat to Holston.

"It was really a team effort," said Hewitt, who finished with 11 kills and six digs. "Every single person gave it their all the whole time and I wouldn't want to play with any other people than the people on the court."

In second set, the Patriots stormed back from an 11-7 deficit to tie the score at 13 with sharp serving and tough defense, and eventually forcing Warriors Coach Brian McCarty to call a timeout to calm his team down. Down the stretch, the pesky Patriots again played Sherwood tough, seemingly trading off every point and serve. But behind a Morgan McAlpin block to help pull ahead and a Holston kill, the Warriors nabbed the set.

"We've been in this situation before," Thomas Johnson Coach Jessica Custer said. "We've been down one game and come back to win the next three. We've been down two games and come back to win the next three. So we are used to being in that situation. It just came down to not being able to push enough."

Thomas Johnson (15-4) again rallied in the final set, this time from a seven-point deficit, to pull within two points at 24-22. But after a Holston shot was blocked, Sherwood senior middle hitter K.C. Emerson tipped the ball over the net for a kill. Two points later, Holston knocked home the game-winning shot.

The future looks promising for the Warriors, who claimed their first title since 2006 and will return all five starters from this year's team.

"It's so exciting," West said. "It's like you get off one season and I'm already looking for the next, but I'm not going to ever forget this season. But everybody on the team has such good energy and good jell. If you look at us on the court and off the court, we bond like no other team you've ever seen. So next year, I have no worries."

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