QA’s, KI go the distance
Lions clinch region final berth in epic five-setter
Q.Anne’s 3 — K. Island 2
CENTREVILLE — Kim Rementer-Betts has never been so exhausted after a match during her 10 years as Queen Anne’s County High’s head volleyball coach.
“We’ve had good teams,” Rementer-Betts said. “We’ve had some standout players. But the unit didn’t work together. And these kids are definitely a team.”
A team that battled through nine ties in the final game Wednesday night before outlasting Kent Island for an epic 25-19, 2125, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13 victory in the Class 2A East Section II title match. And a team that Friday will bid for its first 2A East Region championship in school history, when it faces Section I champ Rising Sun. A coin flip scheduled for 8 a.m. this morning will decide who hosts Friday’s region final.
“We love these kids,” said Rementer-Betts, whose team improved to 16-0. “They’re the best group of children. They’re the most coachable group of kids I have ever had. They’ll give you everything they have. Everything they have; no attitude, no excuses.
“Even when they get in a lull, which I feel we have been in the last couple of games, we really pushed intensity, heart, pride, focus, all these things,” Rementer-Betts added. “And they came out and they knew. They knew. We looked each other in the eye and it was a serious moment. And they didn’t want their season to come to an end.”
Many in a crowd that filled half of the gymnasium may have wondered if this third meeting between the two county rivals would ever end.
Kent Island (12-5), which had won six straight since a 3-2 loss to the Lions on Oct. 13, including Monday’s playoff sweep of No. 2 seed North Caroline, jumped to an 8-2 lead on top-seeded Queen Anne’s in the first game, prompting Rementer-Betts to call time.
“I just told the girls they needed to regroup and settle and focus on their game,” Rementer-Betts said.
Queen Anne’s rallied, as Emma Feaga went on a six-point service tear that forged an 8-8 tie — the first of five ties in the opening game — before the Lions outscored the Bucs 17-11 over the stretch.
Game 2 also featured five deadlocks, but Kent Island never relinquished the lead after snapping a 12-12 tie, as Jahtera Kiah knocked down the final point to even the match 1-1.
“When we were on the attack we were doing well,” Kent Island head coach Patrick Hopkins said.
The third set was another back-and-forth duel, that included nine ties, the last at 21-21. With Queen Anne’s Kelly Cavanagh serving, Kent Island hit a return wide before the Lions’ Allie Harris dropped in a pair of winners at the net to help seal the fourpoint win.
“I knew they were a tough challenge to play. And I knew we could possibly go five games,” said Feaga, of the only team to take the Lions to five games during the regular season.
Kent Island wouldn’t wilt, breaking a 2-2 tie on the way to building a 17-11 lead in the fourth set. But the Lions again rallied, Rebecca Clay’s tap at the net forging a 19-19 tie. The give-andtake continued until Kiah’s kill gave the Bucs a threepoint cushion, and Macey Strunk’s kill sealed a 25-22 victory, forcing Game 5.
“I honestly felt going into that fifth game that we had it. I really did,” RementerBetts said. “I really believed that because they’ve shown us that in the past.
“I told them in that last match, ‘You need to be the aggressor. We can’t keep pushing the ball and tipping the ball right to them. We need to be the aggressor.’”
The fifth set reached its sixth tie at 8-8, before Clay’s kill and a wide return from Kent Island pushed Queen Anne’s to a 10-8 lead. Hopkins called time, then watched the Lions serve into the net before Hannah Moran’s serve was sent wide to tie the match at 10-all. The ninth tie of the set came at 12-12 before Harris found an open space for a winner that gave the Lions a 13-12 lead and Clay the serve.
“I was messing up during the game multiple times by serving,” Clay said. “And I just knew I had to calm down, focus on what I needed to do, act like it was as normal practice, and serve it over and get the job done.”
Feaga drilled a winner from the left side, nudging the Lions lead to 14-12. Kiah answered with a kill on the next ball, drawing the Bucs within 14-13. With a chance to pull even again, Kent Island’s Oksana Fesz served, watched the ball get volleyed before Queen Anne’s Kayla Blann set up Feaga, who blasted the match- and title-winning kill for the 15-13 final.
“I saw it come up,” Feaga said of Blann’s 41st assist of the match. “I knew I had to be aggressive as coach yells at me all the time. I just hammered it.”
“I was so excited,” Clay said. “It was just a sigh of relief that we didn’t have to keep going and going. I was so excited I started cr ying.” She wasn’t the only one. “Really proud of Emma for taking that final swing and not tensing up and being scared,” said Rementer-Betts, who dropped her clipboard and shed a few tears after Feaga’s clincher. “She really went for it and it paid off big.”
Said Hopkins, whose team was 6-4 at one point this season, “This is what championships are; you play to the end.
“Somebody had to win, somebody had to lose,” Hopkins said. “It’s just we played to the very end. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Do we wish we can get a couple of mistakes back? Yes. But we competed. The girls played really, really hard. I told my girls, I think we were evenly matched. I’m proud of my team.”
Notes: Queen Anne’s Blann finished with eight digs . ... Also putting up big numbers for the Lions were Kailey Boomer (24 digs, seven kills), Feaga (14 kills, 22 digs), Harris (15 kills, four blocks), Cavanagh (12 kills, six blocks, 15 digs), Clay (12 digs) and Sydney Parsons (nine digs). … Kent Island was led by Strunk (22 kills), Fesz (14 kills), Moran (16 kills, 10 digs, six blocks), Jennifer Houston (12 digs), Kiah (nine kills) and Victoria Zens (six blocks) . ... There were 32 ties over the five games.
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