After dropping the first two games of its Maryland 4A state volleyball semifinal to defending champion Broadneck, it would have been easy for Gaithersburg to be rattled. After all, the Trojans had fallen to the Bruins in the state semis three times since 2000.
Last night in College Park, however, the Trojans steeled themselves, forced the match to five games and advanced to the state finals with a 23-25, 22-25, 25-21, 25-19, 15-8 win. They will meet Dulaney, which advanced by getting past High Point in three games in the second semifinal.
"This is the most amazing day of my life," said Gaithersburg senior Sarah Fillmore. "I don't think I've ever experienced anything like this. We were so intense, we're ready for states."
It will be the first state final for the Trojans (18-0). They set their course early in the third game, jumping out to a 15-4 lead that was as much a statement to the Bruins as it was to the Trojans: Gaithersburg was not going away.
Fillmore led Gaithersburg with 17 kills, two of which came in the fifth game. It was Gaithersburg's fourth state semifinal match, the first since 2002. Since 2000, the Trojans have posted a 79-5 regular season record.
Kanishia Sheppard led the Bruins with 14 kills and Stephanie Carey had 31 assists for Broadneck, which fell to 18-4.
In the second semifinal, Dulaney rolled to a 25-9, 25-11, 25-15 victory despite three straight aces from High Point's Courtney Lancaster in the third game.
Dulaney will be making its third finals appearance. It has won the state title in its two previous trips (1999 and 2000).
"The strength of our team is defense and serving -- passing and serving," said Dulaney Coach Cary Lyon. "I've known this for years. Coaches spend so much time on hitting when, if you don't play pass and serve well, you're not going to get a hit. It's how we won the county championship, it's how we won the regional championship, it's how we beat a bunch of good teams this season."
Chelsea Manning and Marah Schmitz led Dulaney in kills with seven each.