Arun­del’s ti­tle quest ends with loss to Sher­wood

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Bob Hough

COL­LEGE PARK — Arun­del’s quest for a state vol­ley­ball cham­pi­onship will have to wait at least another year.

Kaiya Heyliger-Pow­ell had seven kills in the de­cid­ing fifth set to lead Sher­wood over the top-ranked Wild­cats on Wed­nes­day night at Mary­land’s Ritchie Coli­seum, 2520, 9-25, 21-25, 25-22, 15-13.

Chyna Gub­bings had 13 kills to lead the Wild­cats, who were in the state semi­fi­nals for the fourth time and were look­ing for their third trip to the state fi­nals.

“I think that we­had a great night and we did a lot of things well,” Arun­del coach Ash­ley Yus­cav­age said. “Ob­vi­ously there were times where we re­ally strug­gled to con­tain [Heyliger-Pow­ell] and I think that was our big­gest is­sue.”

The War­riors (20-3) will face Northwest (18-1) in Satur­day’s state fi­nal. The Jaguars are in the state fi­nal for the third straight year. They fell to Sev­erna Park in 2014 be­fore win­ning their first state ti­tle last year. Sher­wood is the only team to have beaten Northwest this year, tak­ing a five-set match Oct. 19.

Af­ter drop­ping the first set, 25-20, the Wild­cats rolled to a 25-9 win in the sec­ond. Ali­cia El­dredge served nine straight points, in­clud­ing five aces, to give Arun­del a 9-1 lead. The Wild­cats had a 12-4 lead, then Syd­ney Shep­pard served 11 straight to make it 23-4.

The third set was much more com­pet­i­tive, with six ties and four Arun­del’s Kiera Holtz­claw, rear, re­turns the ball as Sher­wood’s Kaiya Heyliger-Pow­ell (33) and Si­monne McCants (18) de­fend. lead changes. Arun­del fell be­hind 13-9 but ral­lied to take a 21-16 lead on the strength of two kills from Gub­bings and a kill and two blocks from Macken­zie Mee­han. The War­riors got as close as 21-19, but the Wild­cats caught a break whena kill went long. But then Sher­wood was called for a net vi­o­la­tion. Shep­pard fol­lowed with an ace, and af­ter the teams traded points, Mee­han closed the set with a kill on a free ball to move the Wild­cats within a set of the fi­nal.

Though there were six ties in the fourth set, the War­riors didn’t take its first lead un­til 17-16. The set was tied two more times be­fore Sher­wood went ahead again 21-20. Gub­bings had a pair of late kills, but the War­riors scored the fi­nal three points of the set to set up a win­ner-take-all fifth set.

Kiera Holtz­claw, one of just three se­niors on Arun­del, closed her ca­reer with six kills and three blocks.

“I’m re­ally proud of this year. We re­ally im­proved,” Holtz­claw said. “It was re­ally hard in the beginning, but we picked up, learned from our mis­takes and bounced back. We played as a team, and that’s what mat­ters the most.”

Mee­han had eight kills and five blocks, Makenna Snidow added five kills, and Nia Smith had 10 digs for the Wild­cats.

“Los­ing these three se­niors is re­ally sad,” Yus­cav­age said. “We are re­ally ex­cited we bring back a lot of re­ally won­der­ful peo­ple. Ev­ery year you change, but we’re ex­cited about what next year looks like.”

MATTHEW COLE/BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

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