The St. Paul's-Maryvale volleyball match featured some interesting subplots.
St. Paul's coach Kelli Wilkinson is good friends with Maryvale coach Jim Jung. Players from both teams know each other well and have often played together in club competition. In addition, the schools are about a minute apart on Falls Road, and both teams carried undefeated record into yesterday's match at St. Paul's.
But No. 1 St. Paul's used the power of Bailey Griswold and Bailey Webster at the net to pull off a not-so-easy 25-23, 25-19, 25-16 sweep of No. 13 Maryvale. The match meant nothing in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland standings, as St. Paul's (13-0) plays in the A Conference and Maryvale (13-1) is in the B Conference, but both coaches saw it as a great test.
"It's fun," Wilkinson said. "The top team in the B [versus] the top team in the A."
Injuries sidelined a key player for both teams (Jillian Unitas for St. Paul's and Kirsten Halbrich for Maryvale), but Wilkinson wouldn't use that as an excuse for why the Gators often looked sloppy, making a number of mistakes and never getting on the big run she wanted.
Webster (14 kills, two blocks) and Griswold (10 kills, one block) would always seem to rescue St. Paul's with a key hit or kill.
Maryvale took a 19-17 lead in game one before the Gators rallied and Webster got two late kills to help lock up the two-point victory. She did the same thing midway through the second game to help St. Paul's pull away while Griswold was all over the court making plays - often at the net.
"We were consistent on offense," Griswold said. "We worked hard ... to get the ball."
Setter Rachel Kelly also helped with her 26 assists and timely dinks that often defused a Maryvale rally and kept the Gators playing in the aggressive manner Wilkinson favors.
"My goal is to always be on the offensive," Wilkinson said.
They needed to push because the Lions simply would not go away. Maryvale got leads in the first and third games and stayed close throughout. Libby Boddiford led the Lions with 19 kills while Maggie Kosloski added 16.
Maryvale found lots of trouble getting the ball up to the net, but Jung wasn't too upset afterward.
"We're playing with house money [today]," he said. "I think this is a growing experience. You play better teams, you play better volleyball."