La Plata swept in SMAC volleyball final by H-town
Hurricanes win in 3 sets for first conference crown since 2006
In its relatively short history, Huntingtown’s volleyball program has been pretty successful in putting some numbers on its championship banner in the school’s gymnasi- um. The Hurricanes, who played their first season in 2004, have won five regional championships in their existence.
But those five years were kept company by just one Southern Maryland Ath- letic Conference cham- pionship, that coming in 2006. On Tuesday night, Huntingtown doubled that total, defeating the visiting La Plata Warriors in three straight sets 30-28, 25-21, 25-15 in the SMAC cham- pionship match.
“It feels really good. It’s been 10 years since we last won,” Huntingtown’s Julia Keffler said. “I think our team has really come together. We have a lot of very good team chemistry and we play well together.”
Heading into the season, Huntingtown (13-1 over- all) may have appeared as an underdog in the conference race given the team plays in the SMAC’s Chesapeake Division with defending 3A state champion Northern. But the Hurricanes defeated the Patriots in four sets when the teams met on Oct. 11 and ran the table from that point to finally claim another conference championship.
“It’s been an incredible season,” Huntingtown head coach Reiko Allred said. “We lost some key seniors this last year, so these girls stepped in and they haven’t let up.”
The start on Tuesday night was far from smooth for the Hurricanes, as La Plata (10-5), the confer- ence’s Potomac Division champion, made them earn everything they got. The hosts actually faced a pair of set points before finally pulling out the 3028 win.
“We started a little flat, but then we got into our rhythm,” Allred said. “La Plata, they’re coached so well. [La Plata head coach] Bill Young, I have so much respect for him. I knew he wouldn’t come in and give us an easy match.”
The Hurricanes took control a little earlier in each of the subsequent sets, taking the second 2521 before closing out the match with a 25-15 win in the third and final set.
“We came out flat and then we helped pick each other up,” Huntingtown’s Lexie Lauer said. “We really wanted it. We pushed for it and got it.”
While his team was not able to take home the conference championship plaque, Young was pleased with the effort his team put forth and the experience it gained prior to the postseason.
“The girls played really well,” he said. “I have a very young team and they fought through. They never let down and nev- er caved in. In volleyball sometimes you see them lose and their whole face shuts down. They didn’t do that. They were smil- ing here at the end, were still playing hard. I was very proud of what they did today.”
The Warriors earned the top seed in Section I of the Class 2A South Region, and will open the postseason in the section semifinal on Nov. 7 against the winner of a section quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Lackey and fifth-seeded Thomas Stone.
“I think we’re in great shape,” Young said. “We have a young team. I have two freshmen and three sophomores starting. We get better by the day. Their volleyball knowl- edge volleyball IQ is going up all the time.”
Huntingtown, the top seed in Section II of the 3A South, will also open its playoff season on Nov. 7 in the section semifi- nal, playing the winner of a section quarterfinal between fourth-seeded Oxon Hill of Prince George’s County and fifth-seeded St. Charles. Potentially waiting for the Hurricanes in the following round would be a rematch with Northern, the section’s second seed.
“We can’t look past the teams we have ahead of us. There is some tough competition,” Allred said. “We have to get back in the gym tomorrow and get back to the grind, work hard.”
La Plata’s volleyball team talks things over during a timeout at Tuesday night’s SMAC championship match at Huntingtown. The Warriors came out on the bottom end of a 3-0 decision.