COLLEGE PARK – The defending state champion Northwest varsity volleyball team earned its second state title Saturday after sweeping Sherwood in three sets at Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland.
The 19-1 Jaguars’ only loss this season came courtesy of the Warriors (20-4) a month ago after a five-game seesaw game.
Jaguars Head Coach Stephanie Blake said the loss motivated her team in the finals.
“They all said that they wanted Sherwood and I said, ‘You guys have to be ready,’” said Blake. “When we lost to Sherwood, they were heartbroken after that. I told them to remember how heartbroken they were then and they went out and showed it.”
The Jaguars showed it by dominating Sherwood from first serve and finishing with 25-19, 25-10, and 25-17 games.
Northwest junior outside hitter Jenaisya Moore stayed consistent with six kills in each set to provide the Jaguars a comfortable lead.
Moore said her confidence increased after last year’s championship win.
“I’m definitely more aggressive. I think, “So what if I get blocked, I’m just going to go back out there again,’” she said. “I definitely think my confidence built up more from when I was a freshman.”
Meanwhile, Sherwood burned timeouts in the second game to keep it from spinning out of control.
Mental mistakes put the Warriors into an inescapable hole.
“Our youth really got us tonight and the environment was a little bit bigger than what we’re used to,” said Sherwood Head Coach Jacob Achten. “There was a little intimidation. We’ve practiced it all year long where we’ve got the grit and the fight and we battle. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
The Warriors managed to mount a short lead in the third game behind senior outside hitter and East Carolina commit Kaiya Heyliger-Powell.
Heyliger-Powell pounded five kills in the third set. Her efforts, however, weren’t enough to avoid the sweep as Northwest came roaring back when Moore slammed down another kill to take the lead for the final time.
“Defensively, we tried to make [Heyliger-Powell] work and we tried to tire her out,” said Moore.
The Warriors received medals after the game to close out their season as state finalists.
Moore and her teammates hoisted the state championship trophy at mid-court to commemorate their second state title in two years.