Glenelg senior outside hitter Julie Hollrah's volleyball team has lost just seven matches during her three-year career, yet one really stands out.
"When we lost to Liberty in the state championship two years ago it really, really hurt," she said. "I felt we didn't play to our potential and they beat us. I always wanted to play them again."
She'll get her wish tomorrow night. The 10th-ranked Gladiators cruised to a 25-13, 25-12, 25-16 victory over Loch Raven (19-4) last night in a 2A semifinal at North Point High. In the early game, Liberty of Carroll County fought off seven match points to post a 23-25, 25-21, 16-25, 25-19, 25-23 win over North East of Cecil County.
Glenelg (17-3) will get a chance to avenge that three-games-to-two loss to Liberty when the teams take the court at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum at 8:30 p.m.
"I've never forgotten about that loss because we should have won," said senior outside hitter Brooke Winterling, the only other member of this year's team who played against Liberty two years ago. "It was like they stole the title from us and now we want it back."
Though Glenelg's appearance in the state final will be its fourth in the past five years, Liberty (17-1) has won the past two state titles and is looking to become just the eighth school to win three consecutive state championships.
"We still remember the last time we played Glenelg because without question it put our team on the map," Liberty Coach David Trumbo said.
Though Liberty was pushed to the brink by North East (17-2), Glenelg wasn't pushed at all. The Gladiators used their size advantage to overpower Loch Raven, as outside hitters Brooke Winterling (13 kills) and Hollrah (nine kills) dominated the net. Glenelg senior setter Allison Gittings orchestrated a balanced offensive attack, as she had 26 assists and five Gladiators recorded at least two kills.
"I didn't think it would be this easy," Gittings said. "But we won and now our season comes down to one, huge game."
Poolesville Beats Southside
In the moments before the Maryland 1A semifinal between Poolesville and Baltimore school Southside Academy, each team clustered on its baseline and whacked practice serves over the net for several minutes. The scene resembled a giant popcorn popper, with girls on both sides serving and then ducking quickly to avoid being hit by incoming volleyballs.
For Southside, it was a harbinger of things to come.
Poolesville overpowered the Jaguars in three games -- 25-10, 25-11, 25-18 -- to earn its third title appearance in four years and a chance for revenge. Poolesville (15-2) faces Williamsport (15-3), which has ended the Falcons' season three years in a row, tomorrow night at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.
"I told my girls, it's Poolesville-Williamsport IV," Poolesville Coach Fran Duvall said. "They're good. And they didn't really get to see anything tonight."
That's because Poolesville went untested, cruising without having to show much of its strategy. Many of the points it lost were on unforced errors, and Duvall emptied her bench early in the third game.
"We're going to have to work hard in practice tomorrow," said senior Alice Hardwick, the lone Poolesville player who played in the three previous Williamsport matches. "It was our goal all year to get to the state tournament and hopefully play them again. We're so pumped."
Junior Inge Rasmussen led Poolesville with 14 kills and six aces, including the match-ending spike. Senior Katie Becknell added five aces, and Hardwick recorded three digs.
Southside (10-7) is only the second Baltimore City school to reach the state tournament.