Broadneck advanced to the state volleyball semifinals for the fifth consecutive year Friday night, but it felt anything but routine.
Thanks to a surprising freshman hitter and thunderous support from what coaches called the largest volleyball crowd ever at Broadneck, the Bruins beat Anne Arundel County rival Arundel in the Maryland 4A East Region final, 25-17, 14-25, 25-14, 25-21.
They'll play the winner of last night's 4A North championship match between Dulaney and Thomas Johnson at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"This is a win that we're going to remember for a long time," Broadneck Coach Romonzo Beans said. "Arundel is so tough. It's never been this hard for us to get this far. Some of our players really stepped up."
Put freshman Ali Malesich at the top of that list. Malesich enrolled at Broadneck five months ago having never played volleyball. Last night, she outshined the most accomplished senior in Anne Arundel County.
Six times, Malesich jumped at the net and blocked spikes by Arundel star Tiffany Johnson, who will attend Kansas State on a volleyball scholarship. One of those blocks came midway through a tight final game and turned momentum in favor of Broadneck.
Allie Woods (17 kills) and Kanishia Sheppard (13 kills) also helped Broadneck avenge a five-game loss to Arundel in last week's county championship match.
"I've gotten better," Malesich said, "and it just feels amazing."
"She's a freshman, so I didn't think she would be playing like that," Johnson said. "She made the difference."
With every county football game canceled because of rain, more than 250 people packed into Broadneck's gymnasium. Fans from Arundel chanted; fans from Broadneck chanted back. Seemingly all of them yelled at the head official, who ran out of the gym as soon as the game ended.
"Oh man, this was crazy," Beans said. "This is the way it should always be a for a big game, with a ton of passion and energy."
Magruder Gets It Done
A year ago, Magruder lost a tough, five-game match to Quince Orchard in the regional final. So senior Sherri Liang relished yesterday's chance to celebrate after the Colonels captured their first Maryland 4A West Region title with a 26-24, 25-19, 20-25, 25-19 victory over visiting Gaithersburg.
Magruder advanced to Tuesday's state semifinals, where the Colonels (19-1) will play 4A South champion Bowie at Ritchie Coliseum. Gaithersburg, which advanced to the regional final in three of the past five years, completed its season at 13-2.
"We didn't win it last year, but too bad. We got it now," Liang said. "We didn't think all season about losing last year. But when we got here, we knew what we had to do."
The first game last night featured seven ties. Magruder tied the game at 24 on a kill from Taylor Herrgott and then got a kill apiece from Sarah Dougherty and Herrgott to take the game. In the second game, with the scored tied at 17, Magruder won seven consecutive points -- including two kills apiece by Liang and Laura George -- for a commanding 23-17 lead.
Gaithersburg grabbed the third game, but Magruder took care of things in the fourth game, building a 19-14 lead behind the serving of Cindy Groom.
A First for Reservoir
Three-year-old school Reservoir won its first region title in any sport by rallying for a 21-25, 21-25, 25-22, 25-23, 15-11 victory over visiting Atholton in the Maryland 2A South Region tournament final in Fulton.
Reservoir (13-5) will face the winner of last night's 2A West Region final between defending state champion Liberty and North Hagerstown in Wednesday's state semifinals at the Community College of Baltimore County-Essex. Atholton, denied its first region title since 1996, finished the season 11-6.
"Winning the first region title is definitely a big deal for us and our school," senior setter Ashley Stoneman said. "We talked about how there was nothing hanging on the walls of our gym, and our goal was to be the first team to be able to put a banner up there."
Huntingtown's First Title
Senior Allison Miller had 13 kills and junior Alex Sita added 41 assists as Huntingtown defeated visiting Severna Park, 25-21, 17-25, 26-28, 25-21, 15-6 in the Maryland 3A South Region final.
It is the first regional title in any sport for the first-year school. The Hurricanes, a team comprised mainly of sophomores and juniors, faced a deficit in all but the fifth game, when they scored seven of the final nine points to win.
"I've said all season long that for being such a young team, they have the ability to play with composure," Huntingtown Coach Cheryl Dowd said. "This is going to be a huge confidence builder for them."
Ashlee Allen led Severna Park (12-4) with 12 kills.
Staff writer Jon Gallo and special correspondent Andrew Levine contributed to this report.