Strong Start has Southern Volleyball Aiming to Win Regional Title
In 2015, the MPSSAA 2A South regional finals was a repeat of a nightmare the Southern (Anne Arundel) volleyball team had experienced too often. The Bulldogs struggled to get in a rhythm in a hostile environment on the road at Patuxent and got swept in three sets.
While many teams would have viewed a 15-3 mark and a regional final appearance as a banner year for its program, especially when competing in a county in which it's easily the smallest school, Southern desired more. The Bulldogs have made four straight 2A South regional finals, but haven't been able to get past that round, losing twice to Patuxent and twice to Marriotts Ridge.
"Since the moment we lost in the region finals last year the girls have been focused on getting back to the regional finals, only this time winning," head coach Bree Northrop said. "They worked hard in the offseason and they remain focused and continue to do what is necessary to take our team to the next level."
The team is off to a strong start this season, topping schools like North County and Meade en route to a 4-1 mark. Southern is undefeated against Anne Arundel County opponents, only dropping one set in those games thus far. Its lone loss came against Howard County's Glenelg, a 3A school which Northrop thinks has a good shot at making a serious push for a state tournament berth.
It's a start that Northrop is happy with. The team's chemistry has been excellent thus far, which shouldn't be shocking considering the team has just one new starter this year, freshman Jessica Chaney. It's a balanced bunch, led by seniors Adair Watson (middle blocker), Gracie Judge, (setter), and Brooke Lawson (libero). The junior class has talent too in the forms of Grace Howl (outside hitter), Olivia Miller (outside hitter) and Raven Pratt (middle blocker).
"Our hitters are really coming into their own and we have two senior setters who provide excellent leadership," Northrop said.
Looking ahead, the Bulldogs will get two stern tests in a row when they face talented Howard County teams, Reservoir and Mt. Hebron. Both will push Southern, but Northrop believes the team will be up for the challenge.
The hope is that these tough regular season contests will have the Bulldogs more prepared for the postseason than in previous years. Southern hasn't reached states since 1983 and Northrop says the team's goal is to end that drought.
"If we fall anything short of a trip to the state tournament, we all will be disappointed," Northrop said. "The players want 2016 to be on our banner in the gymnasium."
|September 20th, 2016||By: Wick Eisenberg|