Gilman doesn’t waver, marches past Loyola
Loss to Dons in final last year fuels Greyhounds’ resolve in 4-set victory
No one had to give the Gilman volleyball team any pep talks Friday night.
The Greyhounds came onto the court against Loyola Blakefield with one purpose in mind during the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association championship and that was to get revenge on the Dons after losing to them last year in the final.
Gilman left no doubt about which team was the best in the league.
The Greyhounds needed 90 minutes to accomplish their goal, putting on a clinic of sorts on the way to a 25-14, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20 victory at St. Paul’s in Brooklandville.
The win ended Loyola’s nine-game winning streak.
“Since we lost last year in the championship, we had Nov. 4 on our minds for 364 days or whatever it was,” said second-year Gilman coach Will Allenbach, whose team was also swept by Loyola on his team’s Senior Night on Oct. 28. “We were extremely hungry, and the guys had a lot of pent-up emotion.”
Outside hitter Charlie Darby performed admirably for Gilman, with 14 kills and 10 digs while going 15-for-19 from the service line.
The Greyhounds also received strong efforts from middle hitter Charlie Halpert (11 kills), outside hitter Will Harris (12 kills), libero Ben Murphy (13 digs) and setter Alex Bauman (18-for-18 serving).
Outside hitter Joey Staab (15 kills) and Alex Harmon (11 kills) led Loyola.
Gilman (15-2) jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the first set as Harris and Darby each had two kills.
A Loyola timeout couldn’t help the Dons as they often failed to communicate and missed returnable balls.
That allowed Gilman to roll and quickly boost its advantage to double digits.
Loyola picked up its play in the second set. After 20 ties, Gilman closed on a 3-1 run and Darby’s kill finished off the Dons.
It ended up deflating Loyola (14-4) and lifting the Greyhounds heading into the third set.
The Greyhounds raced out to a 9-4 advantage behind the serving of Jason Moscow and Harris, but it quickly went downhill from there as Loyola put a dent in the Greyhounds’ momentum.
“I was happy when we came back and we showed a little bit of heart in the third set,” said Loyola coach Tim Baier, whose program has won four championships since 2010. “But Gilman played great. It would have taken a really good game on our part to hang with them and we didn’t have that. Our passing was very poor and our blocking was not very good, either.”
In the fourth set, Gilman fell behind 6-3 but made a speedy recovery on its way to capturing its first title since 2014.
Allenbach said he felt a certain confidence about his team when it took the floor to began the match.
It was a big contrast from the meeting a week ago, when the Greyhounds appeared nervous.
“Tonight, we were just relaxed and having fun in warmups,” Allenbach said. “We were not shaking. We were just loose.”
Gilman’s Will Dewire, center, exults with his teammates as the Greyhounds beat Loyola Blakefield for their first title since 2014.