Sea­hawks not to be de­nied against Wild­cats

The Capital - - SPORTS - ARUN­DEL 1 SOUTH RIVER 3, By James Peters

Af­ter play­ing the role of brides­maid dur­ing its most re­cent trips to the re­gional vol­ley­ball fi­nals, host South River finds it­self one step away from the 4A state fi­nal al­tar fol­low­ing a thrilling 3-1 vic­tory against two-time de­fend­ing 4A East re­gion cham­pi­ons Arun­del Fri­day night.

Fac­ing a Wild­cats squad that ended South River's play­off run a year ago and de­feated the Sea­hawks, 3-1, in the re­cently-held Anne Arun­del County cham­pi­onship match, Sa­manta Tara­bella and Sa­van­nah Doc­tor com­bined for 45 pun­ish­ing kills, largely through 46 as­sists de­liv­ered from Emily Spe­ciale, to lift South River, 27-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-20, in what was a tightly-con­tested match through­out.

“We did just enough and they keep push­ing at the doorstep,” said Sea­hawks coach Mau­reen Carter, whose squad won its first re­gion crown since 1998 and will now play the win­ner of Bethesda-Chevy Chase-North­west on Mon­day at the Univer­sity of Mary­land's Ritchie Coli­seum with a spot in the 4A fi­nal on the line. “We kept coming at them. They're a very good team. We were just a lit­tle bit bet­ter.”

Tara­bella (28 kills, 25 digs) and Doc­tor (17 kills) made sure of that with nu­mer­ous mis­sile-like spikes that ei­ther pounded the court, de­flected hard and wide off a bump at­tempt or was blocked out of bounds by Arun­del's ath­letic front­line of Macken­zie Mee­han (14 kills), Abrielle Scrivner (12 kills), Brooke Watts (10 kills) and Aaliyah Grif­fin (10 kills).

“We knew it was go­ing to be re­ally hard,” Tara­bella said. “We've been pre­par­ing for this all sea­son. I think we ex­pected it to be us two at the end. We fi­nally got redemption against them this year. Se­nior year, go­ing to state semis, it's all I can ask for.”

South River (16-2) used an ace off the hand of Erin Can­ter (15 for 15 serv­ing, seven kills) and a pair of kills by Doc­tor to slip past the Wild­cats (17-3) in the first game. The Sea­hawks pushed that ad­van­tage 2-0 with a more com­fort­able seven-point vic­tory in the sec­ond game be­hind some timely kills from Tara­bella and the serv­ing of Spe­ciale and Sa­man­tha Doudna, whose ace sealed the 25-18 win.

“I rarely say of­fi­cials play a role in a game, but there were some re­ally strange calls at strange times and they got the ben­e­fit of that and they also did what they needed to do and we weren't as clean as we needed to be,” Arun­del coach Ash­ley Yus­cav­age said.

The Wild­cats roared back in game three, open­ing up an early 10-3 lead be­hind the serv­ing of Fiona Gonzalez Me­d­ina and the dom­i­nat­ing play of Mee­han at the net with a hand­ful of thun­der­ous spikes of her own, in­clud­ing the game-win­ner that sailed off the arms of Tara­bella and out of the reach of her team­mates to force a fourth game. South River had ral­lied to within 24-23 be­fore that timely kill.

Spe­ciale won four straight ser­vice points to open the de­ci­sive fourth game, largely be­hind two kills from Tara­bella, to sup­ply the Sea­hawks a lead they would never fully re­lin­quish en route to the 25-20 vic­tory. The Wild­cats pulled to within, 23-20, but a Tara­bella spike was blocked out of bounds and Spe­ciale recorded an ace to lock up the pro­gram's eighth re­gional cham­pi­onship.

“Ev­ery­one played their role cor­rectly,” Doc­tor said. “They did their job.”

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