Wildcats top No. 2 South River in volleyball; Meehan posts 13 kills and seven blocks

Alicia Eldredge (left) and MacKenzie Meehan answered the call for No. 1 Arundel volleyball Thursday evening. Meehan had 13 kills and seven blocks and Eldredge finished with 30 assists as the Wildcats outlasted second-ranked South River in five sets in Anne Arundel County action in Edgewater.

by Pat O’Malley

Was it the “BIG VOLLEYBALL SHOWDOWN” as billed?

You can decide if a 3-2 decision by top-ranked Arundel High over No. 2 South River was all that and more and if you were there, your answer is likely to be in the affirmative.

Thursday night in Edgewater, the top ranked Wildcats remained unbeaten by outlasting the host Seahawks, 25-15, 27-29, 20-25, 25-18 and 15-12, in the first matchup this season of the Class 4A powers who are arguably not only the top two teams in Anne Arundel County, but the Baltimore area as well.

The two are each 3-0 against Howard County teams this season and many observers believe the Anne Arundel and Howard leagues are the area’s premier circuits. They could very well meet again in the county and Class 4A East Region championships as they did in 2016.

Arundel (9-0 overall) opened with an impressive 10-point win at 25-15 but South River (7-2) rebounded to take the next two to put the pressure on the Cats who responded big time forcing a fifth set. Senior Jess Adams (9 kills in match) and freshman Amanda Vigil, who had an outstanding all-around performance with 13-15 serving and 3 aces, plus 10 digs and senior Kat Corkadel (14 digs and 7-7 serving) played a major role in getting their team going.

“We were kind of exhausted in that fourth game, but then we picked it up because we started talking to each other really got going,’’ said junior MacKenzie Meehan, who had a match high 13 kills to go with 7 blocks. Four of her kills came in the fourth set.

Arundel had an 11-10 lead in the fourth set and then went on a 6-0 run to go up 17-10. The hitting of juniors, 6-foot Samantha Tarabella (match high 19 digs)and 5-10 Savannah Doctor (6 digs, 16-for-17 serving, 5 aces) who had 21 kills between them for the five games, got the Seahawks within 4 points twice down the stretch. The hosts got within 14-18 and 18-22 before the visitors pulled away to win by 7.

The setting and overall play of senior Alicia Eldredge, who had a match high 30 assists in addition to 7 kills and 13 digs, empowered the Cats down the stretch in games 4 and 5. Arundel was tied with South River at 10 in the final game, but Eldredge, Meehan, senior outside hitters Chyna Gubbings (11 kills), and Taylor Wigglesworth (5 aces) and freshman Brooke Watts (8 kills, 5 blocks) were relentless in posting the necessary 15 points to close it out.

“We made crucial mistakes down the stretch and Arundel is the type of team that will capitalize,” said South River coach Maureen “Mo’’ Carter.“They are a very hard hitting team with a strong defense. You can not make a lot of unforced errors when you play them.’’

The Seahawks did just that after a couple of long volleys in the fourth and fifth sets, but their constant pressure on the Wildcats throughout made it a tough match for both teams.

“We really haven’t been down in any matches this year and it was a good test that should help us as we go on, ‘’’ said coach Ashley Yuscavage whose girls had won every other match among their nine victories this season by 3-0. “”We blocked well tonight but had a lot of net errors. We need to focus and be more consistent.’’

Several net errors cost the Wildcats in the third game and helped the Hawks to the 2-1 advantage.

“We were not worried when they got up on us,’’ said Eldredge, who is headed to Edinboro University. “We’ve been kind of up and down and just need to find a happy medium.”

That could be dangerous for Wildcat opponents.