There was a gasp of disappointment and a lot of shoulder-shrugging from the Princess Anne boys volleyball team following a tough 3-1 loss (23-25, 25-21, 27-29, 28-30) to Mills Godwin in Thursday’s 5A South Region final.
The loss didn’t mark the end of their season, but the Cavaliers felt like they let one slip away.
Each set was as closely contested and as back-and-forth as the final score read, and then some.
On multiple occasions in the game’s final two sets, each club had opportunities to put the game away with a match-point before the other came back to tie and then reverse match-point. In all four sets combined, there were 23 ties and 18 lead changes.
In the end, it was the Eagles who fell on the right side of each see-saw comeback.
“We made too many unintelligent mistakes,” Princess Anne coach Jeff Kinser said. “We talk about how you have to just play the game and not get frustrated over the little things that aren’t going the right way. We didn’t play the type of game we’re used to.”
The Cavaliers held a 20-18 lead in the first set before the Eagles closed on a 7-3 run. In the third, Princess Anne was down 22-16, stormed back to take a 26-25 lead, then watched Mills Godwin close out on a 4-1 run. During the fourth and most entertaining set, the Cavaliers had control up 23-19, then fumbled a match-point opportunity three times. If a few balls had bounced the Cavaliers’ way, they could have walked out 3-1 winners.
Cavaliers setter Courtland Scharenborg put together a gutsy stat line with 40 assists, eight kills and three blocks. Outside hitter Chase Howard racked up 23 kills on a night when the Cavaliers offense was sub-par.
Princess Anne had trouble blocking and hitting at the net due to the Eagles’ front-line size. Mills Godwin senior Spencer West was a monster in the middle, posting eight kills and nine blocks. Sophomore setter Robert Hicks (32 assists) controlled an audible offense that kept the Cavaliers defense guessing. Trevor McGarity led all Eagles with 14 kills.
The loss doesn’t change Princess Anne’s playoff standing or affect its goal of winning a third consecutive state title. The Cavaliers will still host the state semifinals match Tuesday against Atlee.
“Hopefully it puts a fire under them,” Kinser said. “There’s adversity in life and we tell them we can’t let it knock them down. To have gone through this type of game, and lose that way, hopefully the kids learn from it.”
“I’d rather have it happen now than a time it can knock you out of the season.”