Coming into this season, Howard volleyball coach Grant Scott hoped to achieve a 3-1 record four games in.
And with heavy hitters St. John's (D.C.), Centennial, Glenelg and River Hill on the schedule, that was a lofty goal.
But after Thursday's win at No. 12 River Hill, No. 2 Howard accomplished its mission.
The 25-22, 15-25, 25-18, 25-14 victory came three days after the Lions fell to Glenelg in a five-set marathon.
"That kind of shook off our ego a little bit and made us really crack down," said junior setter Hanna Webster. "We had four really good teams right in the beginning, so we had to push it and we met (Scott's) goal of 3-1."
River Hill's top blockers — Keana Richards, Kalala Pines and Emily Luo — did an admirable job of limiting Howard senior Sydney Biniak, one of the most feared hitters in the league. But Courtney Merson (10 kills, four blocks) and Maya Hairston (six kills, four blocks) stepped up to fill the void.
"Their blocking was outstanding. They took Sydney out, which made the rest of my team have to adjust," Scott said. "My middles stepped up."
The Hawks were led offensively by Richards with 10 kills and sophomore setter Brianna Davis with 16 assists and four aces.
"We battled hard, and we fought hard," coach Lynn Paynter said. "We served tough and we blocked well."
No. 5 Centennial d. Hammond, 3-0: Jessie Link and Meghan Kelley each had six kills, and the host Eagles (2-1) won, 25-12, 25-18, 25-19.
No. 9 Mount Hebron d. Long Reach, 3-0: Reeana Richardson had nine kills and Meg Ross had 14 aces to power the host Vikings (3-1) past the Lightning (0-4).
Mount Hebron won, 25-16, 25-9, 25-9.
No. 8 River Hill 1, Howard 0, OT: Mike Faderin scored the game-winner on an assist from Luke Turney as the visiting Hawks (4-1) beat the Lions (0-4).
No. 3 Marriotts Ridge 5, Wilde Lake1: Amir Najib scored three goals to power the visiting Mustangs (5-0) past the Wildecats (1-3).
Severn 3, John Carroll, 2OT: Morgan Kantor scored all three goals to power the host Admirals (3-3, 1-1 Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference) past the Patriots (1-4, 0-2).
Towson 1, No. 9 Hereford 0: Meg Horan made nine saves to anchor the defense as the host Generals (3-4) shut out the Bulls (3-1-2). Kayla Gotwalt scored the game-winner 10 minutes into the first half. Hereford controlled possession and outshot Towson 15-5, but the Generals' defense held.
Baltimore Sun staff contributed to this article.