Big hitters carry the day for the Seahawks in showdown for Anne Arundel County volleyball powers

by Pat O’Malley

South River was really reved up when it took the court at Arundel High School in Gambrills, Thursday night, and the No. 2 ranked Seahawks humbled the No. 3 Wildcats, 3-0, by scores of 25-12, 25-12 and 25-23. The veteran Hawks (six seniors) left with a very satisfying volleyball victory over the very young Wildcats (only two seniors) running their perfect record to 10-0 while Arundel slid to 6-2 overall.

The Seahawks are 5-0 in Anne Arundel County League action and Arundel, whose other loss overall was to top ranked Atholton by 3-2, is now 3-1 in county play.

Memories of the last two seasons were fresh on the minds of their seniors and their very potent hitting trio of Samantha Tarabella, Erin Canter and Savanah Doctor. Setter Emily Speciale also came up big while fellow senior Anna Osterhouse had a huge second set in the big win.

The victors displayed their power and had a collectively outstanding night serving.

Arundel swept South River in three matches last year — in the regular season, the Anne Arundel County championship and the Class 4A East Region where the Cats advanced to the 4A State final. In 2016, South River took a pair from the Wildcats before losing in the 4A East region final.

“Everybody was on fire,” said the 6-foot Tarabella who had match highs of 14 kills, many of them monster hits, and 8 digs, plus an ace. “We really wanted this one and we really connected with each other. Our defense needs some work, but we are getting there.”

Canter, another of three 6-footers on the team, had six kills and a couple of blocks and added that “We are really staying together as a team because we have worked hard since the start of the season.”

Doctor chipped in seven kills and six digs to go with 17-for-17 serving with two aces.

Osterhouse was a perfect 25-for-25, 16-for-16 with an ace in the second set.

“And Emily (Speciale), our setter, had a terrific night for us,” spoke up the peppy Tarabella.

Speciale was also perfect serving, going 6-for-6 and posted 26 assists for the Hawks.

“I was worried coming in here against Arundel, because you always have to worry about them,” said South River’s veteran coach Maureen ‘Mo’ Carter. “Ashley (Yuscavage, Arundel coach) coaches them well and always has them ready to play. We have three very good hitters (Tarabella, Canter and Doctor) and our girls like each other and have very good attitudes.”

Despite being so young with just two seniors in Taylor Rarig and Mackenzie Meehan, who matched sophomore Brooke Watts with nine kills each for the Wildcats, coach Yuuscavage did not use her team’s youth as an excuse. She was disappointed in her team’s effort or lack of.

“From beginning to end we were not ourselves and I have never seen that side of us,” said Yuscavage who led the Cats to an overall 19-1 record in 2017, the only loss coming in the 4A State final at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.

“South River did what they needed to do.”

The visitors took advantage of a host of forced and unforced errors by the Cats to race out early in each set going 14-3 and 16-5 and 20-10 before putting away the first set by 25-12 and just hammered the Wildcats in the second game going up by as much as 19-2 and 20-6 before closing it out on a kill by Doctor again by 25-12. Tarabella delivered five of her kills by going up and then pounding the ball as she comes down to earth in the second set.

South River put up a 12-3 lead to start the final set before Meehan’s underhand tap for a point started an 8-5 run on a couple kills by Watts. Suddenly the margin was 17-11 South River and ultimately 23-24 on Watts’ final kill following the longest two volleys of the night, with the Arundel fans going nuts. What would have been the Cats’ first win of the night fizzled on Canter’s final kill to end it 25-23.

Pictured above: South River senior stalwarts Erin Canter (left) and Samantha Tarabella combined for 20 kills in the Seahawks’ sweep of rival Arundel