The Princess Anne boys were in search of a spark plug Tuesday as they struggled to kick-start a normally reliable offense in the fourth set of their 5A South Region semifinals match against Maury.
The Cavaliers had dug themselves into a 15-13 hole and were in trouble of squandering a 2-0 set lead to a Commodores group that looked primed to force a fifth set.
Momentum was on Maury’s side, so Princess Anne coach Jeff Kinser called a timeout to calm his group. He told them they needed more intensity.
Princess Anne’s Cam Shannon recorded consecutive blocks after the timeout and a Commodore error, giving the Cavaliers a 16-15 lead. Then came perhaps the biggest play of the night.
Up 17-16, the Cavaliers’ Courtland Sharenborg blocked Maury’s best hitter, Shane Limbaugh, with a monstrous on-the-net stuff that blew the roof off of the gymnasium.
Princess Anne never looked back, taking a 3-1 (25-19, 27-25, 19-25, 25-20) victory and earning a home game in the state semifinals.
“That block changed the game,” Sharenborg said. “It felt like it shut down their whole team.”
Not many plays in volleyball are more aesthetically gratifying than a thunderous kill. A clutch, momentum-changing block against an opponent’s best hitter might be the only one that is.
“It brings the whole mood of the game back,” Cavaliers hitter Chase Howard said of Sharenborg’s play. “Just a great energy-maker for the bench, the guys on the court, but also the crowd. It get’s our adrenaline going.”
“Volleyball is such an emotional roller coaster game,” Kinser added. “Momentum can shift in a heartbeat. You get one big play, and it’s huge.”
Sharenborg finished with 30 assists, eight kills and two blocks. Howard led the team with 16 kills.
Limbaugh’s game-high 20 kills and four blocks, along with Charlie Seerden’s game-high 36 assists, kept the Commodores fighting in a game that was much closer than the final score reads.
Down 24-18 in the second set, Maury rallied for seven consecutive points to go up 25-24, one score away from stealing the frame. The Cavaliers regrouped and escaped to go up 2-0. The Commodores took the third set and were on the verge of forcing a fifth before Princess Anne’s defense took over.
“We did not want to go into that fifth set,” Howard said. “Mentally, it was important for us to get that fourth set.”
The Cavaliers will host Mills Goodwin at 5 p.m. Thursday in the 5A South Region finals.