Gil­man doesn’t wa­ver, marches past Loy­ola

Loss to Dons in fi­nal last year fu­els Grey­hounds’ re­solve in 4-set vic­tory

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Tom Worgo

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.”

BRIAN KRISTA/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Gil­man’s Will Dewire, cen­ter, ex­ults with his team­mates as the Grey­hounds beat Loy­ola Blake­field for their first ti­tle since 2014.

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