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Richard Montgomery Rockets Win Class 4A State Finals!

By MVSA VBC, 11/21/23, 4:00PM EST


The Richard Montgomery girls volleyball team capped off their already historic season with a convincing win in the class 4A state finals against Leonardtown. The team handled the incredible pressure so well and really delivered when it counted!  Read More

The Richard Montgomery Rockets followed up their historic semi-final win against Reservoir HS with an impressive (and equally historic) win in the state finals that took place on Saturday (11/18/23) at Harford Community College APGFCU Arena. The Rockets played some of their best volleyball of the season and kept the Leonardtown Raiders off balance nearly the entire match.

The Rockets started the match relaxed, seemingly unfazed by the pressure of the moment. They jumped out to an early 14-4 lead on strong serving from juniors Ema Djordjevic (Starz 17), Isabella Brennan (Mavericks 18), and Amy Ye, along with dominant net play from junior Corinne "Roof" Howard (Starz 17). Leonardtown would not go quietly and managed to claw their way back into the set forcing Rockets Head Coach Gretchen Barber-Strunk to call a timeout at 24-23. Coming out of the timeout, one perfect pass from senior Casey Bradley (Chaos 18) combined with smart attacking from Howard sealed the first set for the Rockets.

The second set was a much tighter affair with the lead changing hands multiple times and neither team willing to cede control. That is until Brennan came up to serve at 15-16. Strong serving and even stronger net play gave the Rockets the lead, and when a beautiful dig from freshman Ana Djordjevic (Charge 15) was combined with a punishing attack from sophomore Ellie Mitchell (Sparks 16) to go up 19-16, the second set seemed almost inevitable for the Rockets. Leonardtown called a timeout to stem the bleeding but a subsequent blast from Howard signaled that it would be futile to resist. Tough defense and aggressive serving from Mitchell finished out the second set with the Rockets winning 25-18 on a kill from freshman Saesha Dhote (Charge 15).

With nothing to lose, Leonardtown came out aggressively in the third set. That, combined with the Rockets possibly getting visions of a championship dancing in their heads, saw the Rockets go behind early and never catch up. Despite some valiant individual attempts, the Rockets never got into a rhythm and fell in the third 25-14.

With the momentum possibly shifting, both teams showed up at the start of the fourth, trading points and looking for control. At 5-5, the Rockets sided out on a kill from Mitchell, and Ye went back to serve. Consistently tough serving kept the Raiders out of system and solid net play from the Rockets forced the Raiders to burn both of their timeouts. When Ye was done, the score was 16-6. Hoping to get back into the match, Leonardtown threw up a valiant effort on the next point with both teams delivering potential knock out shots over the course of a 40 second rally that finally ended with a punishing blast from Mitchell. Then the Rockets front line took over the game with Howard racking up multiple blocks and kills along the way. At match point (24-10), the Rockets sealed the match when junior Caroline Kaye (Starz 17) and Ye combined for a block. That sent the Rockets bench, including senior Erin Kaluzienski (Chaos 18), juniors Hadley Mongan (Blaze 17), Carly Nunez (Warriors 16 - 2023), Alicia Nguyen (Sparks 16 - 2023), sophomores Catie Chung (Warriors 16), and Emma Sotomayor streaming onto the court to celebrate.

Congratulations to the players, parents, and coaches of the Richard Montgomery Rockets girls volleyball team! It was a lot of fun to watch. With only two graduating seniors, the Rockets will be in an incredible position to defend their state title next year. We can't wait!

Additional coverage:

  • Bus ride to the match
  • In the locker room waiting to go out
  • Warming up
  • Championship point!
  • Richard Montgomery Rockets - Class 4A State Champs