If there is one constant about the Princess Anne girls volleyball team this season, it’s their luxury of not having to rely on one constant part to be successful.
The Cavaliers unloaded their arsenal in Thursday’s 3-0 (25-19, 25-11, 25-10) win against Mills Godwin in the 5A South Region final.
After a minor speedbump in the first set led to a 16-15 deficit, the Cavaliers called a timeout. They finished the frame on a 10-3 run and outscored the Eagles 50-21 in the final two sets.
“At that point, they started to build a run of confidence,” Princess Anne head coach Craig Dooren said of his team’s early hiccup. “It was one of the first times the girls had run into a little adversity this postseason. Then they just rolled.”
Junior setter Alyssa Presto (28 assists) orchestrated a finely tuned offense that featured eight kill scorers, including two smartly-placed kills herself. Presto found the right girl at the right time, constantly analyzing what the defense offered and countering with a play that kept the Eagles out of a system.
“Alyssa, light’s out,” Dooren said of his setter. “She proved again tonight why we’re so successful. She doesn’t get all the glory, but she was putting the ball right where everyone needed it to be.”
“I can honestly go to any hitter I want and I know they’ll put it away,” Presto added. “It’s a connection kind of thing. Sometimes we don’t even have to put words to it, we know where we’ll be.”
Cavaliers junior Abby Bottomley showed why she’s the Atlantic Conference Player of the Year, finishing with 10 kills and four aces.
Princess Anne sophomore Peyton Washington (eight kills) had “one of the best matches of her career,” according to Dooren. Chika Osuchukwu was a force in the middle with 10 kills and three blocks.
Senior Addie Blackwell’s streak of 10 consecutive serves — including three aces — midway through the third set gave the Cavaliers an 11-point cushion.
“We play with our heart,” Bottomley said. “It’s comforting to know that I can look to the person beside me and know they’re going to step up.”
Defensively, senior libero Spencer Rizzo back-stopped a defense that rarely let the ball sniff the ground. The Cavaliers backcourt consistently converted blocked hits and stray free balls into offensive sets. And when the Cavaliers front and back line are in-sync, it’s trouble for opponents.
“Our tempo is huge,” Dooren said. “Even though we’re smaller than most teams, our versatile attack increases the speed of the game to our favor.”
Thursday’s win earned Princess Anne a home game for a state semifinals match Tuesday.