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The first 20 minutes of Monday’s evening second Class 2A state volleyball semifinal was forgettable for Hereford High. In a 14-point opening set hole to Patuxent, the No. 13 Bulls were erratic.

With its season spiraling, Hereford found its footing and showed it belonged on the state’s biggest stage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to get the penultimate game as Patuxent advanced with a four-set decision at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.

Rising Sun’s bid for a perfect season and state championship ended as well as Montgomery County’s Poolesville defeated the eighth-ranked Tigers in straight sets, 25-19, 25-15, 25-12, in the opening semifinal. Poolesville and Patuxent will meet Saturday at noon at Ritchie Coliseum for the state championship.

Rosie Barry led Poolesville (18-0 overall) with nine kills and Emily Agate added seven kills. Bailey Hook finished with 10 kills for Rising Sun (18-1) and Anna Caldwell contributed 22 points.

After a close first set, Poolesville rolled through the next two sets, moving a win away from its first state title since 2008. Though her team needed about 75 minutes to keep its perfect season intact, Poolesville coach Fran DuVall said it was “sloppy.”

“I’m glad we won because we played real sloppy offensively,” said DuVall. “…We were controlling the ball, which I think they were having trouble with so that was good for us. We need to score a little better, a little more efficiently.”

DuVall said she was nervous about playing Rising Sun. She and Tigers’ coach Rich Wilson are longtime friends. The UCBAC champion Tigers battled from an early 10-4 hole to pull to within 17-16 in the opening set.

Barry cranked out four aces in a five-point run and Poolesville never looked back. Barry finished with nine aces as the Falcons had a 16-3 advantage.

After his team’s loss to Poolesville, Hereford coach Dave Schreiner gathered his team on the Ritchie hardwood for one final post game huddle. After a poor start, the Bulls nearly got themselves to a fifth and decisive game.

“I told them at the end of game, somebody has to win, somebody has to lose, but they [Patuxent] had to win,” said Schreiner. “We didn’t give it to them.”

Staring at elimination at 24-22 in the fourth, Hereford tied it at 24 after Patuxent failed to return Kelly Cavey’s hit. The Bulls twice got to set point (25-24 and 26-25), but couldn’t finish.

“I thought we did a great job on the floor tonight,” said Schreiner. “There were times we weren’t where we needed to be, but we passed the ball well. We got a lot of opportunities.”

In their first state semifinal since 2004, Hereford (17-3) was reeling with a 22-8 deficit in the opening set. Using an 11-point run to get back into contention, the Baltimore County school was within a point at 23-22.

bibaudSarah Badawi’s serve sailed out of bounds and the Bulls weren’t able to return Chanel Underwood’s hit, giving Patuxent the set. Underwood had a game-high 20 kills for Patuxent.

“That [rally] really put the momentum in our hands,” said Cavey, who led Hereford with 19 kills. “When we went into that second game, we were excited. We knew we could comeback.”

The Bulls pulled out to 19-14 advantage in the second set as a Cavey kill, followed by an Erin Collins ace, starting a five-point run. Patuxent closed to 21-20, but Hereford got back-to-back side outs to weathered the southern Maryland school.

Patuxent (15-3), looking for its first state title since 2002, raced out to a 19-9 advantage to cruise in the third set. The Panthers got out to a 16-10 in the fourth before Hereford rallied late to extend the set.

“I’ve never been so nervous in my entire life,” said Cavey about the late push. “All of us, we were just covering the floor like we never have before.”.

Before Monday, Hereford’s only losses were to Dulaney, which plays in the 4A state semifinals Wednesday night. The Bulls graduate seven players of this year’s roster, including consensus All-Baltimore County selections Cavey and LeAnne Collins.

“The hardest thing is for the kids that this is their last game,” said Schreiner. “I think having the nucleus of kids we had, you come in here and think that this is our chance. I didn’t want to just get here, but we did play well.”