Getting a team to peak at the end of the playoffs is the hope of every coach.
For Broadneck volleyball coach Romonzo Beans, that hope became a reality last night at CCBC-Essex. The defending state-champion Bruins rolled over previously unbeaten Gaithersburg, 15-4, 15-8, 15-12, in the Class 4A state semifinals.
It was the third straight year that the teams have met in the state semis, and Broadneck has taken the past two meetings. Last year, the Bruins needed five games to put away the Trojans.
Gaithersburg came into last night's game with a 17-0 record, ranked No. 1 in the Washington area by The Washington Post. But they were no match for the Bruins' height, and, as a result, Broadneck advanced to the state final Saturday at CCBC-Catonsville, where it will take on Perry Hall.
The Bruins (15-3) were up and down during the regular season, but have since taken off. Their momentum has pushed them through the playoffs, including what was possibly their best effort of the year, a three-game sweep of then-No. 4 Arundel (15-2) in the 4A East region semifinals.
"I think right now these girls are really starting to feel they own that court out there," Beans said.
Cristen Van Dyke, a 6-foot-2 senior hitter who had six kills, six blocks and 10 service points last night in taking command of the net, said there was no special moment when the team started to jell this season. It just happened.
"We all wanted the same thing, another state championship, and now we get the chance to do it Saturday," Van Dyke said.
"In the middle of the season, we kind of started falling apart because we weren't sure what we really wanted. Now, we've started to come together and we all want the same thing."
Senior setter Hallie Fuller had six kills, 17 assists and was 14-for-15 serving, and 5-11 senior hitter Dana Mullenhard had three blocks and two assists, and was 8-for-10 serving.
That trio, along with defensive specialist Melissa Golob and hitter Erin Lukasiewicz, contributed to a superb defensive effort by the Bruins. They consistently got the ball up and ran the offense off their passes.
"We knew they had a good defense and they were going to run a lot of different plays and quick stuff at the net," Van Dyke said. "We knew we had to be there. The blockers had to take as much away as we could so the defense could set up around us."
The Trojans tried to confuse the Bruins at the net and break up their defense, but Broadneck was too tall and quick.