Reservoir outlasts Howard for HoCo volleyball championship (VIDEO HERE!)


HOWARD COUNTY VOLLEYBALL CHAMPIONS

RESERVOIR GATORS

by Derek Toney

A “season” like no other ended gloriously for Reservoir High volleyball Thursday evening.

The Gators won the Howard County championship with a 26-24, 25-27, 15-11 decision over Howard in the tournament final in Ellicott City. Kasey Holmes had 13 kills and two assists for Reservoir, and Jessica Rothermel finished with 23 aces.

The Fulton school completed an undefeated season (10-0), winning its first league title since 2007. The 2020 fall Howard County volleyball season was moved to the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the Gators, Thursday was the culmination of months of uncertainly, sacrifice and perseverance.

“I never had a practice with a whole team. I never had an entire team for a single match,” said Reservoir coach Carol Ferrante. “People had to play different positions to fill in.”

Ferrante pointed to Lexi Lee and Zuri Taitt, a pair of recent junior varsity call ups, who contributed and filled out a fluctuating roster. The daily rhythm of school, practice and, normalcy, has been turned upside down since COVID-19 crisis started more than a year ago.

As last fall passed and winter started, Navleen Kaur wasn’t sure if she would have a final season with her Reservoir teammates.

“The numbers (infection rate) would go up and being seniors we were thinking are we going to be able to celebrate the last four years,” said Kaur. “We were able to get a season and we’re very grateful.”

Reservoir, which rallied for a three-set victory over Marriotts Ridge in the semifinals Tuesday, broke out to a 17-9 advantage in the opening set Thursday. Howard (10-1) rallied to tie at 22 after Jordan Redmiles’ block kill, and got even at 23 and 24 before the Gators claimed the next two points for the set.

Reservoir itched out to a 14-10 lead in the second set before the Lions again battled back to get even at 23 after a kill from sophomore Kelenna Onukwugha. Tied at 25, Tyller Williams’ block kill and ace got Howard into a decisive third set.

“We don’t focus on the points we missed, it’s about keeping your head,” said Reservoir junior hitter Jessica Rothermel.

The Gators did regroup, establishing a 10-4 lead. Howard again rallied, closing to 13-11 after Darien Garner’s kill, but Kelsey Holmes’ kill and Lion error sealed the title for Reservoir.

Ferrante, in her second tour of duty, believed the Gators who’ve been a Class 3A state title contender if the normal 2020 fall campaign had taken place. The longtime coach has been amazed by her team’s attitude the last several months.

“These girls have given so much to be here. A lot of them are playing club, so they’re trying to rearrange their schedule,” said Ferrante. “They’ve really hard work as a team. We’re like a family, they wanted to be here and do this for each other.”