After fighting through four sets, deep deficits, tight leads and long runs Thursday night, No. 9 Walter Johnson finished its 4A semifinal match the same way it started it — with no answer for Sherwood’s Alex Holston.
Holston, the reigning All-Met Player of the Year, tied a state tournament record with 37 kills against the Wildcats at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum, sending the two-time defending champion and top-ranked Warriors back to the 4A final with a 25-13, 25-21, 18-25, 25-12 victory.
“It was hard for us to even run an offense,” Walter Johnson setter Stephanie Paul said. “It’s just a little frustrating when the same person gets the same kill every time, and you’re there and you’re ready.”
Holston opened the game with a barrage of points, setting the tone by scoring nine of her team’s first 14 points via kills. Walter Johnson shook off its shell-shock in a much closer second set, but Holston put the set away with kills on five of her team’s final six points.
Kristen Larrick and Brigid Morris combined for eight kills in the third set to get the Wildcats (17-2) on the board, but the Warriors (18-0) roared back in the final set, jumping out to a 10-2 lead that Walter Johnson could not overcome.
“You definitely want to get a head start in the game, but I feel like no point was really easy because they have really good defense and blocking,” said Holston, whose kill total tied a record set by Glenelg’s Elisa Davidson in 1995. “I never really count my kills or anything like that. I always just want the ball and want to put it away.”
Taking advantage of Arundel’s pre-game jitters, the Raiders jumped out to a 10-7 lead that quickly disappeared when Brittany Orr stepped to the service line. She sparked a 13-0 run that turned a 10-7 deficit into a 20-10 lead and cemented the set.
With the win, the Wildcats secured a shot at redemption Monday night against Sherwood, the team that ended Arundel’s season in each of the past two years.
“There’s not that much that’s flashy about this team, but it’s a team that works hard and gets their hands on a lot of balls,” Arundel Coach Ashley Yuscavage said. “And that’s a team you can have faith in. You can have faith in a team that’s working. Every ball they’ll do their best.”