Magruder rallied for a 25-16, 17-25, 14-24, 25-19, 15-10 victory over Bowie last night to advance to the Maryland 4A state championship game for the first time.
Trailing two games to one, Magruder (22-2) became more consistent on serves and improved its defense against the Bowie front line. In the fifth game, with the Colonels down 5-3, senior Sherri Liang served six straight points and Magruder took a lead it would not relinquish.
"We were not used to the big blockers ," said Liang, who also had 14 kills. "It took us a while to figure it out. We just told ourselves to keep our heads up."
In Saturday's 7:30 p.m. final, Magruder will face Broadneck, which defeated Thomas Johnson's in the evening's first semifinal at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.
In the fourth game of the nightcap, Magruder jumped out to an 12-6 lead behind the serving of Kelly Henderson and Kelly George.
The Bulldogs managed to close the gap to 23-19 with a scoring spurt led by Heather McDaniel. But they couldn't sustain the rally, and Magruder middle hitter Taylor Herrgott (team-high 14 kills) capped the game with a kill.
"We're so excited about making to the final that we can't wait," said Magruder sophomore defensive specialist Cindy Goon. "We just thought we could do it. We just had to push ourselves to the fullest. We did it."
Bowie senior Kristen Butler led the Bulldogs (14-4) with 26 kills, and Joanna Murphy added 17 along with a team-leading nine aces.
Broadneck senior setter Stephanie Carey doesn't think of teammates Allie Woods and Kanisha Sheppard as intimidating front-line hitters, even though they stand 6 feet and 5-10, respectively. But when she looks to pass the ball, Carey knows she can count on Sheppard and Woods, as she did in the Bruins' 25-20, 24-26, 25-16, 25-23 victory over Thomas Johnson in the Maryland 4A semifinals.
Broadneck (21-2) advanced to the state final for the fifth consecutive year, and will aim for its third title in that stretch.
Thomas Johnson (12-5) lost in the semifinals for the second straight year. Last year, the Patriots lost to eventual champion Quince Orchard; they also reached the semifinals in 1999 and 2000 but have not advanced to the finals in eight years.
Last night Thomas Johnson simply could not find a way to contain Woods and Sheppard, who each had 14 kills. The duo has played together since the seventh grade.
"I don't want to say that we were intimidated by [Woods and Sheppard]," Thomas Johnson senior middle hitter Bethany Springer said. "But they definitely made us think, and you had to watch out for them."
In the third game, Broadneck rolled to a 7-0 lead before Thomas Johnson won its first point on serve. But the Patriots were never able to get any closer, as Woods and Sheppard combined for four kills. The Bruins' momentum continued in the fourth game, as Woods and Sheppard combined for 12 kills.
"We have couple of strong hitters," Carey said. "So if opponents try to concentrate on one, it's really great to have another option. It's a little scary for our opponents, because both of them do amazing things."