The two-time reigning Class 4A girls volleyball state champion opened its season Tuesday with its 39th consecutive victory in best-of-five set matches.
The win, however, had a bit of a different feel for the Sherwood High School program. Of course, senior outside hitter and University of Florida recruit Alex Holston is back in the fold along with classmate setter Maddie Moyer, but the rest of the lineup consists of newcomers or role players from previous seasons that are expected to make significant contributions.
During the Warriors, 25-19, 25-9, 25-14, sweep of neighboring private school and six-time defending Washington Catholic Athletic Conference champion Our Lady of Good Counsel, Holston displayed her expected dominance, but the focus was on a less heralded group of players.
The senior still made her presence felt on Sherwood’s home court as she recorded 19 kills, 11 digs and a pair of blocks. Moyer, meanwhile, dished out 30 assists to a host of relatively new hitters.
McKayla Roy, who is transitioning from a left side hitter to the right side, was solid, if not spectacular, with five kills and three blocks and middle Natalie Sebeck, a first-year starter, accounted for five kills. Rookie starting libero Katie Russell was also strong defensively with 13 digs. Megan Brady, a starting back row player last season, is also adapting to playing at the net.
“They are all doing really well and adjusting,” Moyer said. “I don’t think there’s any added pressure on me setting. It is more just different learning how to get the girls the ball.”
Added Sherwood coach Brian McCarty: “We can always count on Alex, but everybody else it took a set or two to get into the flow of the match. Once we get our timing down and everyone adjusts to their roles, we will be just fine. We know everyone else is going to put a lot of balls down for us. …
“Our phrase this year is, ‘just score the ball.’ It doesn’t always have to be a perfect hit. We can tip and just get it to an open spot on the floor.”
Sherwood (1-0) will be tested again on Thursday when it visits perennial state power Broadneck. It could be a potential preview of the state championship match in November. The teams have combined to win every 4A title since 2006.
“That’s why we scheduled these two games,” McCarty said. “We wanted to play the best public school we could find and the best private school we could find.”
Against Good Counsel (0-1), Sherwood never trailed in the opening set. In the second, the Warriors led 7-5, but Roy accounted for three straight points with a pair of blocks and a kill to give her team all the momentum.
“They are a really, really good team,” said longtime Falcons coach Karen Kart, whose small team committed several uncharacteristic errors. “But we were afraid of making mistakes. … We were in the net and we didn’t serve well. This was not my team or resembled anything what we’ve done in practice.”
Emily Samara and Tricia Kerner paced the Falcons offense with seven kills each.
Note: Sherwood starting middle hitter Dominique Parker is out for at least a month with a stress fracture in her left foot, according to McCarty.
Sherwood 3, Our Lady of Good Counsel 0
Good Counsel (0-1) 19 9 14 — 0
Sherwood (1-0) 25 25 25 — 3
Good Counsel — Emily Samara 7, Tricia Kerner 7, Sydney Dailey 4.
Sherwood — Alex Holston 19, Natalie Sebeck 5, McKayla Roy 5.