By DANIEL KAUFFMAN
10:42 PM EST, November 18, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md.
Ever since an upset loss to Middletown in last year’s Maryland Class 2A West quarterfinals, Williamsport’s volleyball team has been on a mission to win the 2012 state title.
The Wildcats (18-1) are one victory away from achieving that goal, but it won’t come easy. Williamsport will face equally talented Calvert (15-1) Monday at 6 p.m. in the Class 2A state final at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.
“I think maybe the two best (Class 2A) teams in the state will be playing on Monday,” said Williamsport coach Emily Crabtree while watching Calvert defeat North Caroline in Tuesday’s state semifinals. “That’s good. We want to earn it.”
Williamsport has won 12 titles, second only to Centennial’s 14 in state history. A Wildcats victory Monday would give Washington County three state volleyball titles in the same season for the first time ever after Smithsburg (Class 1A) and North Hagerstown (Class 3A) won championships on Friday.
It’s been seven years since Williamsport last won a championship, when the Wildcats earned their last of four straight Class 1A titles in 2005.
Williamsport has used last year’s stunning loss and the tragic death of Samantha Kelly — a senior on last year’s team who was killed in an auto accident in May — as motivation. Senior Stacey Christy said the Wildcats are all on the same page.
“We’ve always wanted to go to states,” said Christy, who leads Williamsport in kills and blocks and plans to play for Virginia Tech next fall. “This year, we’re playing for the same goal, and that’s brought us closer together.”
Calvert will present some new challenges for the Wildcats.
The Cavaliers’ primary offensive weapon is a quick middle set to Kara Collins and Tiffanie Horsemen, who also can act as decoys when setter Lauren Carmen goes outside — most often to Rachel Hornick. Carmen, a tall lefty, also is dangerous with second-touch kills.
“We’ll have to be on our toes defensively,” Crabtree said. “We’ll have to bring our blocking game, for sure.”
Williamsport’s offense will challenge Calvert as well. Christy and Lindsey Mowbray have been solid in the middle all year, and Haley Wolff and Courtney Malott give the Wildcats additional options.
It all adds up to what should be a competitive final.
“We’re playing for a state title,” Crabtree said. “Anything can happen.”
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