Alex Sita and her teammates have had the taste of last year's state semifinal loss to Seneca Valley in their mouths for a year.
The Huntingtown volleyball program was in its first year. But it wasn't the loss that upset the Hurricanes, it was how they lost.
"We got beat really bad," said Sita, Huntingtown's setter. "We decided that this year it was our job to show everyone that we're better than that."
Tonight, at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum, the Hurricanes (16-2) will get a chance to prove it in the 3A state finals against Centennial (18-1).
On Tuesday, the Hurricanes used an exciting third-game comeback to beat Towson in four games, 26-24, 22-25, 28-26, 25-12, and show everyone just how far they've come.
"I thought our first game was just terrific," Coach Cheryl Lord said. "We came out like gangbusters, and that was very important."
But just as quickly as Huntingtown jumped ahead, Towson took it back. The Generals scored 10 straight points in the second game to knot the match at 1-1.
Towson looked as if it might be in control in the third game as well, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and keeping the advantage throughout.
The Hurricanes, though, fought back to take a 24-23 lead, and a hustling play out of bounds by Andrea Miller kept a point alive that tied the match at 25-25. Huntingtown went on two win the pivotal third game 28-25.
"We just knew that was a game we had to win," said Jessica Gaetano. "It was a huge deal to get that game and get that momentum back."
"They managed to do that because they were relaxed," she said. "It was two things -- the experience of being here last year and the best defense they played all year."
Gaetano led the Hurricanes with 10 kills, and Megan Newman had five service aces, each of them at key moments in the match.
Miller had nine kills, and Kaitlin Ledonne and Lauren Jeschelnik each tallied six.
Now perennial power Centennial awaits. The Eagles have won nine state championships, but they will not take the Hurricanes lightly.
"We know they are a very strong and well-coached team," said Centennial Coach Michael Bossom. "We expect their best."