Easton 3 — Chesapeake 2

EASTON — The Warriors opened Game 1 here Monday evening in a Class 3A South Region semifinal and looked like they would breeze into the region final on Wednesday. But Chesapeake, of Anne Arundel County, picked up its defensive effort the rest of the match, taking Easton High’s volleyball team to the limit.

Chesapeake rallied from a 24-21 deficit to win Game 4, 26-24, sending the match into a final game to decide which team would move on to the next round. In Game 5, though, the Warriors didn’t let down at the end. Leading 12-11, Easton won three of the next four points to win 15-12.

“I think we definitely could have done better,” said Emily Griffith, the Warriors’ senior setter. “We definitely could have communicated more and moved better. They were a good team. They were really scrappy in getting balls up and we knew we had to be ready to play. We weren’t talking to one another and we were letting balls drop and running into each other, but we just needed to get together and finish.”

Easton (12-3), the region’s second seed, will host the region final as well as fourth-seeded Northeast (AA) defeated top-seeded James M. Bennett, the Bayside Conference champion, in the other semifinal. The state’s eight regional champions will then be re-seeded for the state quarterfinals based off their regular-season winning percentage.

Chesapeake, the sixth-seed, which defeated third-seed Stephen Decatur, 3-2, in the region quarterfinals, saw its season end at 3-12.

After their poor start against Easton, the Cougars didn’t look like a team with only three wins, led by the defensive blocking of Abbi Hilpert, Abby Mollick, and Karsin Baker, and the athleticism of Megan Buss and Trystyn Stewart.

The Warriors eventually found a way through and around Chesapeake’s blocks and got points they needed when it mattered most. Trailing 12-11 in the final game, the Cougars were whistled for consecutive double-contact passing violations as Easton took a 14-11 lead. Baker then reverse bumped a volley that was first ruled out but was overruled to cut the Warriors’ lead to 14-12. Easton’s Myia Jeter then ended the match. Off a pass from Jade Williams, Jeter blasted a kill into the Cougars’ block-defense and the ball dropped to the floor for the 15-12 victory.

Jenny Shaw served for six straight points to give the Warriors an early 7-1 lead in Game 1 and they never trailed. Jeter placed a dink winner onto the court and Williams scored with a short reverse bump. The Cougars failed to return serve once and Shaw delivered one ace during the run. Chesapeake regrouped after a timeout, but Easton maintained a comfortable lead, getting service runs by Ashanti Stanley and Griffith to keep well ahead for an eventual 25-17 win.

Chesapeake, though, won five of the last six points of Game 1 and kept its momentum going into Game 2. A three-point serving run by Buss, which included a kill by Hilpert, put the Cougars ahead 4-2. Easton pulled ahead for a while with Shaw serving four points, including an ace to end her run. Chesapeake tied the game at 10-10 and 16-16 before Easton eased ahead again by its largest margin 22-18, only to have the Cougars rally and take a 25-24 lead on an ace by Hilpert. Jeter put down a left-side kill off a feed from Griffith to tie the game, but the Cougars won three of the next four points to win 28-26. Morgan Gray put down a two-handed winner at the net for Chesapeake and a passing error by Easton accounted for the final two points.

Game 3 was a lot like Game 1 with Easton establishing an early lead and leading throughout by a comfortable margin. Shaw served for another six-point run to break a 2-2 tie. Kate Chapple later served for four points to increase the Warriors’ lead to 19-7 lead. She opened the run with an ace. Williams scored with a kill along the sideline off a pass from Griffith. The Cougars lost a point on another double-contact pass and another point on a two-handed pass that landed in the net. Emma McKenzie ended the game with a middle-hit kill off a pass from Griffith through a block attempt by Gray for a final score of 25-15.

“We just tried to move the ball around a little bit more, find their holes at the time,” Warriors head coach Jen Powell said. “We just asked our personnel to do different things, to try different things. Once they started taking the cross(-court) shot away we had to change and do something different.”

Down two games to one and 24-21 in the fourth game, Chesapeake kept battling. A long rally ended with an Easton error for side-out, cutting the Warriors’ lead to 24-22. Easton sent the next serve-receive into the net and a hitting error tied the game at 24. A bump return by Easton sailed over the net but out of bounds, and then Gray ended the match with a winner at the net.

Easton trailed 2-1 in Game 5. A winner by Stanley into the middle of the Cougars’ defense and a long rally that ended with another double-contact call put Easton ahead. The game was tied five times, the last time at 7-7. Williams put the Warriors in front to stay with a smash that caromed off a Cougar defender and out of bounds.

“I just told them to settle down. It was a race to 15,” Powell said. “Every set we were in we got to 15 before they did — we just needed to play.”

2A East Region II

North Caroline 3, Parkside 0

RIDGELY — Madelyn Rorabaugh smacked 15 aces to go with five kills, two digs and a block as the top-seeded Bulldogs rolled to a 25-14, 25-13, 25-10 semifinal rout of Parkside.

North Caroline (11-4), which has won five straight by sweep, hosts fourth-seeded Kent Island (9-7) on Wednesday for the regional championship.

Lauren Williamson had seven kills, two digs and two aces for the Bulldogs, Camryn Pepper finished with five kills, two digs, an ace and a block, Kelsey Walters added four aces, two kills, a dig and a block, and Ashley Blake had six digs.

Kent Island 3, Queen Anne’s 0

CENTREVILLE — Lily Golembieski had 13 kills and three aces, and Kennedy Warren finished with 30 assists, eight digs, three kills and a pair of aces as the Buccaneers ousted their county rival, 25-17, 25-22, 25-19, in the semifinals.

Brooke Loveless and Emily Blum each contributed seven kills for Kent Island. OC Graham had nine service points, including three aces, and added nine digs.

1A East Region II

Col. Richardson 3, Kent County 0

AMERICAN CORNER — Hope Kraus had six aces and Allison France added five as the Colonels swept the Trojans, 25-21, 25-15, 25-17, in the semifinals.

Winners of four straight, Colonel Richardson (8-8) plays at North Dorchester (9-7) for the region title on Wednesday at 5 p.m. Maddie Covey finished with four kills and three aces for the Colonels.

N. Dorchester 3, Snow Hill 1

SHILOH — Kayley Bradley’s eight aces paced North Dorchester to a 25-17, 26-24, 19-25, 25-15 victory over Snow Hill.

Breisha Cephas had a team-high six kills for North Dorchester.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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