Arundel junior Allie Orr could see it happening in front of her. On the other side of the net, she could see Severna Park make the mistakes. Orr could watch the Falcons fire their serves into the net, push their sets just a little too far and send their passes flying out of bounds.
All of it, Orr said, was part of the Wildcats’ plan.
“We try to start strong, because we know that once you start strong against a team then they’re more likely to make their own mistakes. We try to always keep the ball back over on that side and keep putting it down as much as we could,” she said. “With every team, when you start pushing harder you can expect the tips and the rolls.”
Arundel jumped out early on Severna Park, rolling the Falcons in the first set en route to a 25-15, 25-18, 25-22 senior night sweep that secured an undefeated regular season for the Wildcats (14-0). The victory came against a Severna Park team that arrived at Arundel on Thursday with high expectations and a record that featured just one other loss.
The Falcons (12-2) did little to help themselves in the first set, breaking from their usual routine by adjusting their rotation to match their top blockers against the Wildcats’ best hitters. The adjustments did little to slow down Arundel and in the words of Falcons Coach Tim Dunbar, “We just confused ourselves a little bit.”
“The first one, we came out a little bit flat. We tried some things that we weren’t normally doing and we weren’t used to,” Dunbar said. “The kids had a hard time adjusting to what we wanted them to do, so we went back to our bread and butter in the second and third game and it made it a little bit more comfortable for them and I think they played a lot better.”
The Falcons did improve in the second and third sets but never managed to put together the long scoring rallies they needed to dig their way out of the holes Arundel put them in. The Wildcats held Severna Park to just five scoring runs of three points or more while using multiple rallies of their own to bury the Falcons.
Offensively, Arundel was led by Orr, who had 9 kills, and Sam Hebb, who had 8. Lilly Glenn did significant offensive damage from the service line for the Wildcats with 7 aces and chipped in on defense with 7 digs.
“It’s exciting. It’s not everything,” Arundel head coach Ashley Yuscavage said of her team’s undefeated finish. “Everyone goes into the playoffs with a clean slate, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. It gives them some confidence. You can always use more confidence.”
With the loss, Severna Park falls into a three-way tie for second place in Anne Arundel County with South River and Broadneck but will still advance to the county championship game next Tuesday, where it will get a second chance against Arundel on the road.
“We’re going to play them again in like three or four days and I think our girls are going to walk out of this gym upset and frustrated because they didn’t perform like they wanted to but also knowing we can perform at their level,” Dunbar said.