After first seizing and then losing the momentum early in the match, the fifth-ranked Calvert volleyball team finally took control and beat host Huntingtown, 25-13, 24-26, 25-20, 25-17, to clinch its sixth straight Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title last night.
In a matchup of two Calvert County teams without conference losses, Calvert (12-0, 8-0) seemed headed for a rout after running off 22 straight points. But the sixth-ranked Hurricanes (11-2, 8-1) clawed their way back and tied it when Jess Gaetano split two defenders to give them a 26-24 second-game win.
"I wasn't real thrilled to lose that second game after how we played early," Calvert Coach David Redden said. "At that point, I told them just to go back to fundamentals -- pass the ball, set the ball, hit the ball."
And, more often than not, it was All-Met hitter Whitney Johnson completing the last step. Early on, Huntingtown's Andrea Miller kept Johnson in check with a few key blocks. But the Hurricanes' unforced errors and Calvert's good passing proved too much for the second-year program.
"We were never really able to get into our rhythm, but I think we did a good job on Whitney," Huntingtown Coach Cheryl Lord said. "You have to hand it to her, though, she's a great hitter. When she connects, it's a beautiful sight to see."
The Hurricanes saw plenty of it in the final game, when Calvert's final 10 points included four kills and a block from Johnson.
"It takes a total team effort, including pinpoint setting," said Redden, who credited junior Sarah Cobaugh with helping get Johnson into the game. "She's definitely a weapon, but she definitely can't do it alone."
Both teams hope that the playoff-like atmosphere at Huntingtown is a good tuneup for the upcoming state tournament, where Huntingtown (3A South) and Calvert (2A South) will compete in different regions.
"To say it was a hostile environment is an understatement," Redden said. "This is a good rivalry that I think will continue to heat up."