At home on senior night, the South River volleyball players were already in a celebratory mood moments before the start of their October 24 showdown with rival power Broadneck.
Once the match began, the Seahawks kept the party going.
South River jumped out to a two-set lead and fended off a mid-match surge by Broadneck before dealing the Bruins their first county loss in five sets, 25-23, 25-14, 28-30, 21-25, 15-13.
Highlighting the win were several star performances, led by the exploits of junior Madison Carter, who notched 16 kills and 16 digs to go with five aces and 19-19 serving. Senior Rachel Pierson had 30 assists and was 19-19 serving with five aces and 11 digs, while junior Danielle Davis notched seven kills, four aces and nine digs. Senior Samantha Lauer had 20 digs, senior Rachel Bergamini had four blocks and junior Tara Mahoney had seven blocks. Sienna Manoogian had three aces, and freshman Nicole Alford had six kills and five assists.
Head Coach Maureen Carter said the girls maintained composure and stayed positive in staving off the comeback attempt of the Bruins, who a week prior had successfully rallied from two sets down to top Arundel in another down-to-the-wire matchup.
“I just think they had so much confidence, and we really just stayed up,” said Carter. “No one got upset. We stayed together as a team. We just kept the momentum. When we made a mistake, we just went on to the next point. Nobody hung their heads, and that’s huge when you get that momentum and you make a mistake and you can just push it off to the side and move on to the next point, that’s huge. That’s what we did that night and that’s why we prevailed.”
The win catapulted South River past Severna Park and Arundel and into the October 29 county championship game, also against Broadneck. Though the Seahawks fell in five sets in that match, 19-25, 25-17, 16-25, 25-23, 15-8, they are nonetheless having a tremendous season in a county stacked with talented teams in the Bruins (13-2), Wildcats (12-2) and Falcons (12-2).
South River has been strong since defeating Arundel in straight sets 25-23, 25-17, 25-16 on September 19 in both teams’ county opener, which coach Carter said was exactly what the girls needed.
“I think we’ve done very well,” said Carter. “Beating Arundel early on just gave our girls the confidence to just keep going.”
Since, the Seahawks have marched to a 14-2 overall record, 11-1 in county play, their only county loss coming to Severna Park in early October.
Along the way, South River’s players have amassed impressive totals. Carter leads the county in kills with 176, while Alford (64), Nicole Powell (49), Addie Elswick (39) and Mahoney (36) have also racked up impressive kill totals. Mahoney has been among the county leaders in blocks with 32. Carter has 196 digs, senior Kaitlyn Simmons has 97 and Lauer has 76. Pierson has 275 of the team’s 343 assists.
Having earned a no. 1 seed in Section II of the 4A East region bracket, the Seahawks enjoyed a first-round bye and are likely on a collision course with Broadneck for a rubber match in the region semifinal. If they get past the Bruins again, the opponent for the region title will likely be Arundel or Severna Park.
As battle-tested as the Seahawks are, coach Carter believes they can be the ones to represent the East in the state tournament.
“We are confident,” said Carter. “We’re confident enough that we could beat Broadneck, and then my girls are eager to get through and face Severna Park and/or Arundel. We lost to Severna Park early on, and we didn’t play well, so it would be nice to get a chance to see them again. I hope we can just keep the momentum and keep playing well.”
Update 11/7/13: South River got the best of Broadneck in the teams' rubber match on November 6, beating the Bruins in four sets to advance to the 4A East region final. The Seahawks will host Severna Park on Friday, November 8 at 6 p.m. to determine the East region champion.
View a full photo gallery of the South River volleyball team against Broadneck.