Spalding knocks off Maryvale Prep to clinch the top seed for IAAM A volleyball

No. 10 Cavaliers celebrate with a dominant sweep of the reigning champs

Published 10/13/2022 10:35 p.m. EDT, Updated 10/14/2022 11:07 a.m. EDT

Archbishop Spalding’s Maya Mauro was so nervous about playing Maryvale Prep’s volleyball team Thursday that she couldn’t sleep Wednesday night. Teammate Addison Collins admitted that her nerves were on edge the entire school day.

After waiting almost a year, the Cavaliers finally had their chance to avenge last season’s three-set loss to Maryvale in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship match. This time, the No. 10 Cavaliers asserted themselves early and swept the No. 6 Lions, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19, on Senior Night at Spalding.

“We’ve had this game on our mind forever…” Collins said. “Losing last year in the championship, we came for redemption. We know that they lost a ton of players that were really good, but we knew that we had to come out stronger this year too.”

The Cavaliers (8-2 overall, 6-0 IAAM A) clinched the top seed for the A Conference tournament which begins next week. The Lions (8-2) dropped to 5-1 with their first loss to a conference opponent since 2019.

In each set, the Cavaliers led by seven or eight points about midway through and fought off every Maryvale rally. Collins led the way with 12 kills while Mauro had seven and Mariah Sanabia, six.

Spalding coach Corby Lawrence said his team is finally hitting its stride after battling injuries early in the season. Five players came through injuries and at one point, he said, the Cavaliers were down to their fourth setter.

“We’re a long way from the end,” he said, “but I feel like they’re starting to feel like this could be their year and they’re playing with all the pride and the passion to try to make it their year.”

Nerves showed on both sides early in the match, especially in 13 first-set service errors — eight by Spalding.

The Cavaliers, however, never trailed and had a couple of three-point runs early in the match, but they never maintained the momentum, just slowly building their lead until three Collins kills in the final four points helped the polish off the set.

In the second set, one of Libby Potter’s 12 kills gave the Lions a 4-3 edge, but the Cavaliers took the lead back with a five-point spurt on two kills from Collins, one from Sanabia and two aces from Mauro to start their climb to a 16-7 lead.

The Lions rallied to within 19-17 on Potter’s two kills and Athena Savick’s ace, but the Cavaliers scored the next three points on a kill from Mauro and two Maryvale hitting errors to spark the win.

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After Olivia Munoz’s kill opened the third set for the Lions, Spalding scored the next six points and Maryvale never got closer than within four points.

“We just didn’t show up,” Maryvale coach Missy Little said, “and it’s unfortunate, but [Spalding] was definitely the better team tonight. They were energized. They were up the whole time. That’s what you can expect from a team that has the momentum and the tenacity. They were going after us and I knew that was going to happen. I knew we had that target. I knew they wanted to get that match back. I would want the same thing and we weren’t ready.”

The Cavaliers showed off a lot more weapons than the Lions did and using all of their hitters, especially outsides Collins and Maura and middles Sanabia and Margaret Mohler, gave them an advantage in power.

“It’s great,” said Spalding setter Kristen Burton, who had 28 assists. “I look at the blockers on the other side of the net and I see who’s the shortest, who’s the tallest and I tell my hitters what I want to run with them and I ask if that’s okay with them and we run it from there… I have so many options.”

The Cavaliers honored six seniors — Collins, Sanabia, Burton, Katie Estes, Sophie Vance and Carina Witt — before the match. Collins said the players wanted Senior Night when they played Maryvale, but Lawrence was a bit concerned about the distraction.

“The one word I told them is I want them to go in there and just be proud, proud of who they are, proud of what they’ve done on this journey for the last four years and proud of their accomplishments so far this year and just play with that pride and passion out there on the court tonight and they really did.”