All season long the Magruder girls volleyball team has been playing exceptionally. The Colonels only lost one regular-season match but avenged it in the playoffs. Now as 4A West Region champions, the Colonels were in the state semifinals for the first time in school history. And to celebrate the occasion, they probably played their worst match of the year, but still won.
Magruder beat the Bowie Bulldogs 25-16, 17-25, 14-25, 25-19, 15-10 Tuesday night at Richie Coliseum in College Park. The match featured both teams playing excellent volleyball for one game and then looking absolutely dreadful in the next.
“Definitely not one of our better matches of the season,” said middle hitter Taylor Herrgott. “But we came together and pulled through.”
In the first game Magruder looked like the team it has been all year. Bowie came out strong and look an early lead but was stopped by the smallest player on the court. All 5-foot-2 of Magruder sophomore Cindy Goon completely changed the momentum of the game. Down 12-7, Goon stepped behind the serving line and won the next 10 points. After going back and forth a little bit, the Colonels finally put the Bulldogs away.
Things were looking good. Ten consecutive points in a state semifinal game is definitely a great starting point. And then things started to fall apart piece by piece. Game two started out competitively. The teams went back and forth, tied at 9-9. Magruder even took a little lead at 17-14, but then Joanna Murray stepped up to serve for Bowie. Topping Goon before her, Murray served 11 consecutive points to win the game for Bowie, 25-17.
Magruder looked defeated and dejected after the game. Their body language suggested they wanted to do better but just couldn’t.
“I think because we’re here and this is our first time here our nerves were relaxed in the first game,” said outside hitter Kelly Henderson. “Then we relaxed too much and in the second and third game, we just didn’t come back. We didn’t do anything.”
Game three was actually worse for the Colonels, Henderson was right, they couldn’t do much of anything. But in the fourth game with the match on the line, Magruder finally returned back to regular-season form. Except for two ties, at 13 and 14, the Colonels led for the entire match. The win was punctuated by a Herrgott kill that left a visible vapor trail.
In the fifth and final game, Bowie put up a fight at the beginning but was overpowered by Magruder. Becca Russell captured the win with a powerful kill of her own. Kill after kill after kill in the fifth game, Magruder showed it was most definitely back. The team that played in the second and third game was no longer on the court. They were replaced by the squad that only lost one regular-season match.
“The kids showed a lot of guts. That’s what it pretty much boils down to,” said coach Scott Zanni.
Now the Colonels face an exceptional team in Broadneck of Annapolis on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Richie for the state championship. The Bruins, under the guidance of coach Romonzo Beans, won the 4A state title in 2001 and 2002. They went to five games in the final with Quince Orchard last year. It's a formidable opponent for a team in the state final for the first time in school history.
“Underdog, overdog. It doesn’t matter this time of year,” said Zanni. “It’s whoever plays the best volleyball."