A volleyball succession continues; Quince Orchard, Marriotts Ridge soccer finish strong


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Growing up, Erica Maebius was a regular fan in the stands at Langley volleyball games. She watched her sisters, Sarah and Jessica, play in the Saxons’ green and gold jerseys, waiting for the day she would be able to don one.

On Oct. 18, the roles reversed: Erica’s name was plastered on posters decorating the walls of the gym, while Sarah and Jessica watched her from the stands on Langley’s senior night.

Seniors on the team typically are recognized alongside their parents for a pregame ritual. Maebius, the third and final girl in her family to hold the starting libero position for the Saxons, was instead accompanied by her older sisters.

“It’s like passing on the torch,” she said. “I’ve watched them play for so long, and now to have it be my senior night is crazy.”

The Saxons beat Herndon that night and finished the regular season with a 21-1 record, their only loss coming to Courtland.

Both of Maebius’s older sisters have been a part of state champion teams — Sarah in 2013 and Jessica in 2017 — and Erica hopes this is her year to clinch a title.

Sidwell Friends finished its regular season last week with wins against Episcopal (6-1) and St. John’s (5-2). The victories capped an undefeated season for the Quakers and placed them in prime position for an Independent School League AA division title.

For team captain Laura Youel Page, the biggest challenge now is maintaining that momentum without letting past success go to their heads. The ISL finals will be Thursday at Flint Hill.

“You can’t go in overconfident,” Page said. “I’ve just been reminding everyone to just stick with their game and not expect a win. We still have to keep on working hard and working for the tournament.”

Despite struggling with a slew of injuries this season, the defending league champs have notched hard-fought wins against talented teams even outside of their, including St. John’s and Collegiate. Page, who plays doubles, knows every matchup matters in the postseason.

“Being in doubles, it doesn’t always feel like it’s the most important match,” Page said. “But it’s really important to remember that no matter what position you’re playing on the team, your point by winning the match, that counts the same towards a team win.”

With a 3-2 win over Northwood on Wednesday night, Quince Orchard finished its regular season at 10-1-1. Its only loss came just two days earlier, 2-0 to Bethesda-Chevy Chase.

It’s rare to see any team flirting with a perfect regular season, but especially one from Montgomery County. The area is loaded with state championship contenders: 10 of the last 15 4A champions have come from the county.

On paper, this Quince Orchard team lacked the heavy artillery of seniors that is often necessary to fare well in such a competitive region. However, Cougars Coach Bruno Tejo knew he had a special group this fall from the moment they played their first game, a 5-2 win against Blair.

“We had a tough preseason. We tried to make it nice and hard,” Tejo said. “So against Blair, they really went in and set themselves apart. Everything that we had been preaching, they put it together. That first game set the tone for us in this long run.”

That run has reached a new stage, as the Cougars will begin postseason play this weekend. For a program that has never made it deep into the state playoffs, there is a potent mix of pressure and excitement.

“This week is all about getting mentally ready for our next opponent and keeping our focus on the next game,” Tejo said. “But it’s also about having some fun with it. There’s a lot of stress that can go with this, but for us, it’s sometimes about going back to those basics of having fun and playing your heart out.”

When first-place Mount Hebron lost to Glenelg on Oct. 13, Marriotts Ridge players and coaches realized they had won Howard County’s championship.

They were excited, but their attention soon turned. They had another game to cap their regular season, and they had been in this position.

Marriotts Ridge has won Howard County’s title — awarded to the team with the best county record — three of the past four years. The Mustangs also won last year before suffering their lone loss against Hebron, the eventual state champion, in the Maryland 3A postseason’s third round.

Since the start of this season, Marriotts Ridge players have maintained one goal: Win the Marriottsville program’s first state championship.

“I don’t have to say much,” Coach Kudzai Dzimiri said, “for them to realize and understand what the responsibility is going forward.”

One mistake hindered Marriotts Ridge (11-3) in its 1-0 playoff loss last season. After overcoming their disappointment, returning players realized they can compete with Maryland’s best teams. Since another loss to Hebron (9-2-1) on Sept. 27, the Mustangs have won five straight games by a combined score of 30-1.

“We were more driven than upset … to take our next few weeks of preparing for hopefully seeing them again in the playoffs,” Dzimiri said. “It’s just going to come down to who makes the first mistake.”

If Marriotts Ridge wins its opening playoff game Friday, it could rematch Hebron in the third round Nov. 1.

Going into the Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship on Oct. 17, Coach Chuck Driesell knew his Maret team was a contender. As long as senior leader Keaton Orava played well at Falls Road Golf Course, the Frogs had a chance to dethrone two-time defending champion Potomac.

With the title on the line, Orava shot a 5-over par-75 to finish in a three-way tie for first with Potomac’s Michael Fairbank and Sidwell Friends’ Andrew Ludwin. Orava’s low score combined with those of senior Griffin Abdo and juniors Nicholas Zhu and Jack Smart propelled the Frogs, who shot a 42-over 322 to clinch the team title and beat Potomac by nine strokes.

“They really showed up every match, they really deserved it,” Driesell said. “I was super excited for the kids.”

Driesell said he had never seen a three-way tie before. Unlike in other conferences, the MAC typically does not have a playoff to award a true first-place medalist. But Sidwell Coach Jon Mormino organized one anyway. So Abdo, Fairbank, Ludwin, and the fourth place Vasilios Doulaveris of St. Andrew’s will go head-to-head on Wednesday.

After Yorktown beat rival Washington-Liberty in a rout in last year’s district championship, Patriots goalkeeper Morgan Stone noticed her teammates start connecting with each other more. Yorktown had been playing well, and it ended up leading to the school’s first state title.

On Thursday, Stone played a pivotal role in helping her team knock off the Generals in the Liberty District championship again. The senior kept a clean sheet, making three saves in the Patriots’ 5-0 win.

Yorktown (12-3) advances to the Virginia 6D region quarterfinals, where it will play Westfield on Wednesday.

“Last year set the tone for everyone to want to work really hard in the offseason,” Stone said, “to come into this year and try to accomplish what we did last year, but with a new team.”

Also in Virginia, South Lakes continued its success with a 3-2 win over Madison to repeat as Concorde District champions. In Maryland, Broadneck beat Crofton, 2-0, in the Anne Arundel County championship Monday night.

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