No. 1 Arundel slides past Broadneck

Wildcats remain undefeated with sweep of Anne Arundel County rival

Published on: September 30, 2022 11:10 AM EDT|Updated on: October 02, 2022 6:32 PM EDT

Senior setter Emily Liu was a driving force for Arundel volleyball Thursday evening. The top-ranked Wildcats swept visiting and No. 4 Broadneck in an Anne Arundel County match.

With its back against the wall, Arundel’s girls volleyball team showed its toughness and championship mettle to overcome No. 4 Broadneck in a match-up of Anne Arundel County powerhouses.

The top-ranked Wildcats trailed in all three sets and faced a pair of set points in the first frame before rallying for a straight set victory (27-20, 25-20, 25-16) in Gambrills.

“We spent a lot of this season talking about mental toughness,” Wildcats coach Ashley Yuscavage said. “The result is that they are able to stay focused in those tough elements. We were able to bounce back from mistakes and that has been a huge part of our game.”

The toughest challenge for Arundel (5-0 overall, 3-0 Anne Arundel) came in the first set. After pushing out to an early five point lead, the Wildcats let Broadneck chip away.

Trailing 21-18, the Bruins rallied to knot the score at 23 and set up and exciting finish to the set. After the teams traded points, Broadneck (3-2, 2-1 Anne Arundel) took the 25-24 lead on a finish by senior Bella Rubino.

Arundel senior setter Emily Liu rescued the Wildcats with a nifty play at the net. The senior took the feed from a teammate and softly lifted the ball over the net rather than sending it for a spike.

The move caught the Bruins off guard and the shot fell to tie the score. The Wildcats scored the next two points and pulled out a close 27-25 win.

“Emily is and has always been a leader on the court,” Yuscavage said. “She is the hardest working in our gym, everyday for four years. She is smart and she makes great decisions.”

Broadneck, who also fell to Arundel in last year’s Class 4A East Region l final, refused to go down without a fight and came out blazing in the second set. The fourth-ranked Bruins marched out to an early 5-point advantage at 10-5. Coach Yuscavage called a timeout to help her team regain their composure.

Liu was in the middle of the ensuing rally that evened the game at 10 with two assists.

“We talked a lot yesterday about controlling our emotions,” Liu said. “I think that played a really big part [in the win]. Even if we are down, we try to keep our composure and come together after every point and talk about what we need to do.”

The second set remained close until late with the game tied at 18. Indecision cost Broadneck on the next point as a well-placed ball from junior Taylor Johnson fell between three Bruins to give the Wildcats the lead at 19-18.

“We have so much work to do,” Broadneck coach Tracey Regalbuto said. “I feel like catching us in the playoffs is a different story from tonight.”

The Wildcats finished out the second set by scoring six of the final eight points to go up 2-0. In the third set, the Bruins again took an early lead but were undone by a pair of big runs from Arundel. With the set tied at 11, the Wildcats scored four straight points to go up 15-11.

Broadneck rallied to within one but that is as close as the Bruins got as Arundel responded by taking eight of the next 10 points to help close out the game with a 25-16 third set victory.

Liu said the loud atmosphere gave this a game a playoff feel, which is something the Wildcats are accustomed to as the two-time defending 4A champs.

“I know we lost a lot of seniors [last year],” Liu said. “We are working hard every practice We want to show everyone we are still capable of winning another championship.”