Gladiators extend No. 9 Hereford’s misery; Rising Sun falls

Rising Sun’s Eckerd sends a shot over the net as Williamsport’s Haley Kendle and Mackenzie Pryor tries to block during Tuesday’s Class 2A volleyball semifinal. Williamsport swept the No. 7 Tigers for the opportunity at a 15th state title.

With a new lineup, Glenelg High volleyball knew building chemistry would be a challenge. The Gladiators have rounded nicely into a cohesive unit and are a win away from a state title.

No. 2 Glenelg swept ninth-ranked Hereford in a Class 2A state semifinal match at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum. The Gladiators will take on Frederick County’s Williamsport in the state final. Williamsport ended No. 7 Rising Sun’s season in the other state 2A final four contest in College Park.

It took just 72 minutes for Rising Sun’s title hopes to fade to black in a 26-24, 25-23, 25-9 sweep. Keara Lewis had 13 kills for Williamsport (13-5 overall).

After rallying to tie the opening set at 24, Rising Sun wasn’t able to recover after dropping the first set. Sophia Eckerd finished with 13 kills for the UCBAC Chesapeake champ Tigers (15-3).

“The game swung on the last couple points of the first set,” said Rising Sun coach Rich Wilson. “Once we managed to lose that set … we got anxious and didn’t do the things we usually do.”

Glenelg (17-1) showed little nerves in disposing of Hereford. 25-15, 25-14, 25-14, in a match that lasted 76 minutes. Maddie Myers had 11 kills for the Gladiators while Maddie Southern finished with 31 assists.

Glenelg is a win away from its first state title since 2005 after sweeping No. 9 Hereford Tuesday. The second-ranked Gladiators will play Williamsport for the state crown, Monday evening at the University of Maryland.

Southern and Lydia Strickler were the only starters back from last season. Myers, who was homeschooled, was among many new faces for the western Howard County school.

The Gladiators’ only blemished this season came against top-ranked Atholton, which plays in the 3A state semifinal Wednesday against Westminster. Glenelg last won the state championship in 2005.

The wait continues for Hereford (16-4), which lost its six straight state semifinal match. Maggie May and Cindy Parker had 7 and 6 kills, respectively for the Baltimore County champ Bulls.