It was a bit — well, a lot — harder than anticipated, but the Kenwood volleyball team preserved its unbeaten record when it hosted Patapsco last week on the Bluebirds’ Senior Night.
The Patriots, who entered the match with a 5-8 record and had been swept by Kenwood earlier this season on its home court, stunned the Bluebirds by taking the first two sets before Kenwood rallied to win 24-26, 18-25, 25-20, 28-26, 15-13.
Patapsco was serving for match point in the fourth set, leading 26-25, but a Patriot free hit landed out to tie the score and give the serve back to Kenwood.
Taylor Taormima served an ace to give Kenwood a lead, then a Patapsco spike went into the net to send the match to a fifth set.
The Bluebirds trailed 13-11 in the fifth set and Patapsco had the serve. After a Patriot spike went into the net, Makayla Brown served three consecutive aces to win the match.
Kenwood is now 13-0, and was o end the regular season on Tuesday at Owings Mills.
“Our girls are resilient,” Kenwood coach Ronda Shelley said. “They definitely have something I can’t teach, and that’s heart. I just asked them, who wants it more, and they responded on and off the court.”
Shelley said she wasn’t too surprised when Patapsco won the first set, as she started all the team’s senors on Senior Night instead of the usual lineup. But when Patapsco won the second set, “that definitely shocked me.”
The Patriots nearly won in a sweep, leading the third set 11-9 and 17-16.
A Makayla Brown ace and two Patriot errors gave Kenwood a 20-17 lead. With the Bluebirds leading 21-19, a spike and an ace by Raven Brown helped Kenwood avert the sweep.
The Bluebirds seemed comfortably in control of the fourth set, leading 13-7, when the Patriots scored 11 of the next 14 points to go ahead by 18-16.
Again it was Makayla Brown stepping to the service line in the nick of time. She served three points to slow the Patriots’ momentum and put the Bluebirds back in the lead, 20-18.
Over the next several frenetic minutes of the set, with four lead changes and five ties, the Bluebirds got crucial plays from Emma Pollard (spike to give Kenwood a 23-22 lead, and a spike to put Bluebirds ahead 25-24) and Raven Brown (block to give Kenwood a 24-22 lead).
“Makayla [Brown] is one of my best servers,” Shelley said. “She had fire in her eyes when she was getting ready to serve, and I thought to myself, we’re going to win this, and it will be on her shoulders.”