There's a boom, a small-scale explosion that occurs every time Glenelg seniors Julie Hollrah and Brooke Winterling spike the ball. It was the spark that fueled the Gladiators to the Maryland 2A title last night at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.
Hollrah and Winterling combined for 32 kills as Glenelg upended two-time defending state champion Liberty, 22-25, 26-24, 25-18, 25-21.
"They've been doing it all year," said Glenelg Coach Don Beall, whose senior trio of Hollrah, Winterling and setter Allison Gittings proved too formidable for Liberty (18-2).
Glenelg won the state title three years ago, when the threesome was in the ninth grade. None were on the varsity at the time.
"This was our last chance," Hollrah said. "To win it here in our last year, it's amazing."
Glenelg won by attacking Liberty's staunch line of blockers. Gittings (40 assists) set the table all night for her standout classmates, and they repeatedly blasted the ball past Liberty.
"We just hit it as hard as we could," Winterling said. "This is the happiest I've ever been in my life. I cannot stop smiling."
In the 1A final, Poolesville strode into Ritchie Coliseum donning T-shirts emblazoned with a slogan: "Dream. Believe. Commit. The journey ends 11/19/05."
And end it did, but not in the manner in which the Falcons hoped.
For the fourth consecutive time, Poolesville's season was ended by Williamsport. And for the third time in as many years, the loss came in the 1A state championship -- this time in straight games, 25-23, 25-21 and 26-24.
"I've got to be honest," Poolesville Coach Fran Duvall said, "I'm tired of being the bridesmaids."
Despite its recent playoff success, Duvall's team was inexperienced, with just two seniors playing full-time roles. Williamsport (16-3), meanwhile, was loaded with big-game experience. The disparity was evident late in the games, as Williamsport would brush off any bit adversity while Poolesville (15-3) sometimes seemed flustered.
Williamsport won a hotly contested first game when outside hitter Lacie Johnson spiked the ball into the back right corner, where none of Poolesville's players could reach it. Poolesville had led 21-17, but committed a pair of unforced errors during the final five points.
It was the fourth straight title and 11th overall for Williamsport, which won its first in 1981, when Head Coach Emily Crabtree was a senior playing for the Washington County school.
Johnson and senior Sammi Snodderly had nine kills apiece, while senior Poolesville senior Alice Hardwick recorded 14 assists.
"You face them every year, and you really just want to beat them," said Poolesville junior Inge Rasmussen, who recorded a match-high 16 kills.
Added Hardwick: "We went to states four years in a row. I can't complain."