To prepare for Saturday’s state championship match against Broadneck, the Arundel volleyball team focused on its comportment as much as its technique. The Wildcats knew the county rivalry would draw a crowd, and they didn’t want nerves to be an issue.

“We had the music all the way up blasting while we were serving just to put us in that mode,” junior hitter Brooke Watts said. “To get used to that loud atmosphere so we could get locked in even when it’s crazy and hectic.”

The strategy paid off for the Wildcats (21-1), who won the Maryland 4A volleyball state title after defeating the Bruins, 3-2 (25-21, 23-25, 25-14, 21-25, 15-10) in a packed Ritchie Coliseum in College Park.

The crowd was so energized that fans for both teams did backflips between games. The game proved just as thrilling as the teams battled through five sets. Arundel lost to Broadneck (21-4) in four sets at the county championships but secured the bigger crown.

“We said on day one this is where we want to be at the end,” Arundel Coach Ashley Yuscavage said. “And we made it happen, and I could not be more proud of these girls.”

Arundel jumped out to an early lead in the first two games, but senior libero Reiland Brown (20 digs), junior setter Makena Smith (26 assists, 12 digs, 2 kills) and senior outside hitter Emma Quandt (15 kills, 10 digs) helped Broadneck claw back.

The Bruins capitalized on Arundel’s errors and took the second and fourth sets, but the Wildcats’ front row remained stout.

“I’m super proud of [my team] for fighting the entire time and never quitting,” Broadneck Coach Tracey Regalbuto said.

Arudnel’s middle hitters, sophomore Zaria Ragler and senior Abrielle Scrivner, were a force for the Wildcats. They contributed a combined 10 blocks.

Watts (16 kills, 16 digs) maintained pressure on the outside while junior hitter Aaliyah Griffin and junior libero Fiona Gonzalez Medina did so from behind the service line.

Sophomore setters Ashley Barnes (13 assists, 17 digs) and Abby Niles (19 assists, 13 digs) kept their hitters effective.

“This game we were really talking to each other,” Scrivner said. “I kept encouraging [our setters] so that the sets would be perfect every single time and I think both of them showed out.”

With a young roster and nearly all of their starters returning next year, the Wildcats could be a threat again.

“I think this is just one more amazing, incredible step,” Yuscavage said. “But there are more steps for us to keep going together, and we’ll keep taking them.”