-- Senior Cristin Van Dyke's block of the first spike of the game set the tone: Broadneck's volleyball team would once again end Gaithersburg's pursuit of its first trip to the state championship.
Van Dyke finished with six blocks and six kills to lead the Bruins to a 15-4, 15-8, 15-12 victory over the top-ranked Trojans in tonight's 4A semifinal at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex.
"Getting [a block] at any time is a really good thing," Broadneck Coach Romonzo Beans said. "It helps us set the tone."
For the third straight season, Broadneck (16-3) eliminated Gaithersburg in the semifinals, and for the second straight year, the Bruins entered with a 15-3 record and handed a 17-0 Trojans squad its first defeat. The defending state champion Bruins will meet Perry Hall, which won a semifinal in four games over Bowie, in the championship match Saturday at CCBC-Catonsville.
From Van Dyke's blocking and hitting to the defense of junior Christina Green, the serving of Karen Powroznik (four aces) and the setting of senior Hallie Fuller (17 assists), the Bruins' victory was complete from the start -- when they opened with an 11-0 lead -- to finish.
The Trojans (17-1) had not lost a game since its first match of the season against Poolesville, and they had not lost a match since losing to Broadneck in a 3 1/2-hour, five-game marathon in last year's state semifinal. Today, Gaithersburg was ousted in 70 minutes.
"You have to sit back and ask yourself, 'What happened?' because it doesn't seem real," Gaithersburg senior hitter Lauren Weller said.
In the other semifinal, Perry Hall (16-2) lost the first game but won the next three for an 8-15, 15-8, 15-4, 15-7 victory over Bowie (12-5).
Coming into tonight, Bowie had won 12 matches in a row since opening the season with four losses.
"When we got that first game, it didn't help us relax," Bowie Coach Jennifer Buter said. "Instead we got tense. It was, 'Oh man, now we have to win two more.' "
Poolesville Sweeps Ahead
Four days after one of the biggest victories in school history -- a five-game triumph over two-time defending state champion Smithsburg -- Poolesville rode that wave of emotion to a three-game sweep over Loch Raven in the Maryland 1A semifinals.
The Falcons' 15-3, 15-7, 15-13 victory advanced them to the first state championship game in the 32-year history of the tournament. Poolesville (11-6) will face Williamsport, a winner over Perryville, in the final Saturday in Catonsville.
"It's really amazing. Words just can't explain what it's like to be the first" Poolesville team in a state final, said junior Katie Kuhn, who had a team-high seven kills. "We knew we had to stay level and not get overconfident [just] because we beat Smithsburg."
Poolesville scored 10 consecutive points in the opening game for the easy victory, aided by costly Loch Raven errors. In the second game, Loch Raven (14-5) adjusted and jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Poolesville rebounded behind stellar play from Kuhn and senior Tiffany Werking (six kills, four blocks, three aces), whose smashed spike down the middle closed out the Game 2 comeback.
Virginia AAA Quarterfinals
Centreville made history by beating visiting Douglas Freeman, 15-11, 15-9, 13-15, 16-14, to earn the first state tournament win for a Northern Region volleyball team. The Wildcats (20-3) will have a chance to make further history in a semifinal Friday against First Colonial. . . . Forest Park junior outside hitter Marisa Gross had 21 kills, 13 of which came in the first game, and helped the undefeated Bruins race to their 24th consecutive victory in beating Kellam, 15-8, 15-5, 15-4.
Special correspondents Dan Steinberg and Will Toussaint contributed to this report.