Even if Calvert wins a second consecutive Maryland state volleyball title next month, the players for the third-ranked Cavaliers say it will not top last night's five-game victory at No. 8 Huntingtown.
With new Calvert County school Huntingtown needing one point to clinch the match, Calvert regained serve in the fifth set, trailing 14-11. Junior Samantha Harrison, who is not in the regular rotation, entered and served five consecutive points -- capped by an ace -- to seal the 19-25, 20-25, 25-23, 25-19, 16-14 victory.
"This is probably the best volleyball county in the state," Harrison said. "We were more excited for this [than last year's state championship match]. This is the whole year for us."
Calvert County has produced a state champion in each of the past 10 years, the chief reason why these intra-county Southern Maryland Athletic Conference matches are so energized. Players and coaches joke that it is tougher to win the county championship than the state title.
With one regular season match to play, Calvert (13-0, 11-0) has all but clinched that honor. The Cavaliers have won 32 straight matches, dating from the 2002 playoffs.
"Even if we're fortunate to go on to win the state championship, but we lost this one, it's a mark against us," Calvert Coach David Redden said.
It is very possible Calvert County could produce multiple state champions for the first time this year. Calvert, last year's 3A champion, is now in 2A, and Huntingtown (11-2, 9-1) and Northern will play in the 3A field. Patuxent is in 4A.
"We've got a chance to go up and show how dominant this conference is," Redden said. "Us, Huntingtown, Northern, Patuxent, they could all be state [champion]-caliber teams."
Huntingtown, a first-year school whose student body was culled from Calvert, Northern and Patuxent, lost its second match of the season to No. 5 Broadneck (a 4A school) in five games, and had won 10 straight before last night.
"The [schools] split," Calvert junior Whitney Johnson said. "You had people who left, people who wanted to stay. Huntingtown is our new rival and we wanted to beat them."
The Hurricanes took the first two games thanks to strong serving (three different players had at least one ace) and phenomenal net play from Allison Miller and Jessica Gaetano.
But Calvert, with only two returning starters in uniform from last year's team, turned to its big gun, the 6-foot-2 Johnson, who was invited to a USA Volleyball Olympic development camp last summer. Johnson's overwhelming power at the net helped bring the Cavaliers victories in the next two games.