Volleyball is a game of momentum and South Carroll never managed to seize enough of it in Wednesday night’s Class 1A state volleyball championship.

The Cavaliers slowed Clear Spring only for a few points at a time as the Blazers took a 25-15, 25-15, 25-16 victory for their fourth state championship and their first since 2018 at Harford Community College’s APG Federal Credit Union Arena in Bel Air.

After rallying from two sets down to beat No. 15 Patterson Mill in the state semifinals, the Cavaliers (14-5) could not pull off the same feat against the Blazers (18-2), from Washington County.

South Carroll had a little momentum going in the third set when Elaina Murphy had two kills and Jamie Knight had another to take a 3-1 lead, but after the teams traded points, the Blazers scored the next eight points. The Cavaliers could not gain any traction after that.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Without the momentum, Cavaliers senior Emily Trail said, “It’s hard to dig yourself out of holes. This team, we have the potential to dig ourselves out of holes, but when it gets to a certain point — they were hitting where we weren’t… They were a good team and they were putting the work in too.”

For the sixth-seeded Cavaliers, who were in the state final for the first time since winning their only title in 2007, the loss could not tarnish a terrific season.

They advanced further than a year ago when they fell in the state semifinals. In addition to Monday’s semifinal victory, their major highlight was a 3-2 win over Westminster in mid-September that ended an Owls win streak against Carroll County teams dating back to 2018. It was South Carroll’s first win over the Owls in 12 years.

“I’m super proud of them this year,” Cavaliersl coach Brad Kutzler said. “They got one step further than they did last year and just from day one, I could tell they really wanted it this year. They came together as a team and they played some tough opponents this year and they played them tough.”

Trail said the Cavaliers enjoyed every minute together.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“This team from the start, we had this crazy energy and when some people see us they think literally ‘psychos,” Trail said with a laugh. “People laugh at us sometimes, because we do the most stupid stuff, but everyone here has so much energy and it’s addictive. Just playing with them was a really amazing opportunity.”

Going into the title match, the Cavaliers were well acquainted with the success of Washington County volleyball. Just three teams from the county — Clear Spring, Williamsport and Smithsburg — have combined to win 34 championships. Williamsport has won 16, the most titles in state tournament history while Smithsburg is tied for second with Centennial with 14.

Clear Spring had a tough time just getting out of its region, which includes teams that have won 11 of the past 12 Class 1A titles. The Blazers dethroned defending state champ Williamsport, 3-2, in the semifinals and then edged Smithsburg, 3-2, in the regional final.

Once they reached the state quarterfinals, the Blazers swept their final three opponents.

Both teams had balanced attacks, but the Blazers were able to better utilize their power with at least 14 kills in every set. Senior right-side hitter Addy Ziegler led the way with 12 kills while sophomore outside hitter Ella Papa had nine and senior middle hitter Faith Moore had eight. Senior setter Hailey Ernst had 36 assists.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Compared to 43 for the Blazers, South Carroll had 20 kills in the match. Outside hitter Murphy, who had more than 100 kills this fall as a freshman, led the Cavaliers with six while senior right-side hitter Jamie Knight had four. Senior setter Lindsey Willie had 14 assists.

After the third appearance in the title game in program history, the Cavaliers see no reason why their success cannot continue despite graduating eight seniors.

“It’s going to be hard,” Murphy said. “This group was so much fun, filled with energy and I’m definitely going to try to take that energy and bring it on to the people coming up next year and make sure our seniors next year are role models as well and show everyone what we’ve been through and try to do it again.”

Senior libero Cali Kalishek and her classmates will walk away with a lot more than the silver medals around their necks.

“Im grateful for the moments, the times, just everything we’ve gone through and been able to experience together,” Kalishek said, “especially the little things, bus rides where we bonded as a team to build up the program to little victories like when we beat teams that we should be beating to big victories. I’d say today was a big victory, to be in the state finals, and beating Westminster and Monday, quarterfinals, coming back with a reverse sweep. I’m just grateful.”

More From The Banner