Arundel avenges regular season loss, tops No. 2 South River for Anne Arundel County volleyball crown (VIDEO HERE!)
by Pat O’Malley
A couple of weeks ago, Arundel High was totally dominated by South River. Monday evening, the young and fifth-ranked Wildcats (only two seniors) turned the tables on the second-ranked Seahawks with a 3-1 victory in Anne Arundel County title match at Northeast in Pasadena.
Arundel/South River undoubtedly is Anne Arundel’s most intense volleyball rivalry and it just keeps on churning. With the region tournaments to start on Thursday (Nov. 1) the two teams will start at 13-2 each overall.
The Wildcats were on fire after a slow start in the first set losing by 4 and then reeled off three consecutive sets. Senior outside hitter and leader, Mackenzie Meehan (15 kills, 3 blocks), juniors Abrielle Scrivner (9 kills) and Audrey Perrin (kill, two aces), sophomores Brooke Watts (11 kills and three blocks) and Aaliyah Griffin (10 kills) and freshman setter Abby Niles (40 assists) were the main contributors in a spectacular team effort.
Senior outside hitters, Samanta Tarabella and Savannah Doctor led South River. Tarabella had a match high 20 kills, six each in the first and fourth sets while Doctor finished with 10 kills. Emily Speciale, the Hawks’ senior setter had 33 assists and was 16-for-16 serving.
“We are a team and really wanted this one after the way we played a couple weeks ago,” said Meehan, who will continue playing at Radford University next year. “I think we have really come together despite being such a young team. It was fun tonight.”
Arundel coach Ashley Yuscavage said after the first meeting this season that, “from beginning to end we were not ourselves and I have never seen that side of us.”
Yuscavage was smiling from ear to ear Monday night in Pasadena after her Wildcats dropped the first set by 25-21, but proceeded to rip off three straight sets by scores of 25-23, 25-13 and 25-17 to cop their second straight county championship after South River won it in 2016. That season, the Hawks also took the regular season match, but after adding the county crown lost the Class 4A East Region title to Arundel.
Laset fall, Arundel swept with a big broom taking the triple crown of the two schools – regular season, county championship and the 4A East title. A third meeting is likely to happen again this year although No. 11 Broadneck (9-3) and highly competitive Severna Park (7-7) in the regional could spoil things.
Arundel took the top seed in Section I and would likely play Severna Park in the Section final while South River is top seed in Section II with Broadneck looming in that section final before facing Arundel a possible third time.
In Monday’s county final, it looked like it was going to be repeat of regular season match for the Wildcats. Arundel fell behind 10 points twice at 14-4 and 15-5 in a set that had no ties along the way. The Wildcats rallied as Watts fired in a couple clutch kills down the stretch while Griffin made a couple tough blocks and suddenly South River was clinging to leads of 23-20 and 24-21 before Emily Speciale’s kill ended it 25-21.
The rally gave the Wildcats the momentum they needed as they hung tough in a back-and-forth battle that featured 12 ties, the last at 23. Watts closed it out with a pair of bullet-like kills, 25-23.
“We kept working at it and felt like we had to have it, ‘’’ said Watts, who was a starter on last year’s 4A State finalist as a freshman. “This might have been my best match. It certainly got us going.”
She was right. The Wildcats came out firing on all cylinders in the third set building three 12-point leads and several 13-point advantages before winning by 12, 25-13 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Watts powered five of her kills using her long arms, quickness and athleticism to drive the shots.
The Wildcats would get 4 kills from Meehan and two each from Griffin and Scrivner to overcome Samanta Tarabella’s six kills to take the clincher by 8 points. The closest South River got down the stretch was at 20-15.