From the HCC sports desk:
BEL AIR, Md.—The Harford women’s volleyball team put up a valiant fight as it fell, 3-0 (25-20, 25-9, 23-25, 25-15) to No. 20 College of Southern Maryland on Thursday night at Susquehanna Center. The Fighting Owls (0-8, 0-3 MDJUCO) knocked off the nationally-ranked Hawks (16-2, 3-0 MDJUCO) in the third set and kept them close in the fourth before an injury forced Harford to finish the match without any substitutes or a libero.
Freshman Lydia Zeller (Fawn Grove, Pa./Kennard-Dale), who would leave the match after suffering a blow to the head, led the Owls with six kills and also added six digs and two assisted blocks, while sophomore Ashlyn Tapler (Jarrettsville, Md./North Harford) was tops with 13 assists and freshman Kaitlyn Hall (Bel Air, Md./Bel Air) tallied 12 digs.
Ashley Wolfe came just two digs away from a double-double with 11 kills and eight digs, while Shelby Barnes led the offense, hitting .273 with 16 kills on 33 attacks and Sarah Cobaugh assumed the setting duties, recording 39 assists for the match.
Neither team was particularly impressive from the floor, with the Hawks hitting just above .200, at a .205 clip, while Harford managed just a .048 hitting efficiency.
Southern Maryland jumped to a quick, 2-0 lead in set one, but a kill by sophomore Brittany Kaszak (Perry Hall, Md./Perry Hall) would make the score 3-2 in favor of the Hawks and Hall would serve for three consecutive points to give Harford a 5-3 lead.
The Owls would lead by as many as four points, 15-11, before Southern Maryland would begin to battle back with a 7-2 run to take an 18-17 lead which they would hold on the way to the 25-20 set win.
The second set again saw the Hawks jump out to a quick lead, this time 3-0, before each team suffered service errors to make the score 4-1. The Owls could not come up with an answer to Cobaugh’s serve, as the Hawk served for eight consecutive points to build an insurmountable, 12-1 lead on the way to the 25-9 set win.
Down two sets to none, Harford would show its determination in set three, which saw 14 ties and six lead changes. The teams would trade points and scoring runs for the majority of the set, with neither team able to gain much momentum.
After a three-point run by the Hawks to take a 16-14 lead, Harford answered with four consecutive points of its own to build an 18-16 advantage and force a Southern Maryland timeout. The teams would trade points twice after the break to make it 20-18 in favor of Harford before the Hawks would mount their last rally, scoring three points to take back the lead, 21-20.
After trading points yet again, freshman Sarah Baker (Joppa, Md./Joppatowne) would tally a kill that knotted the score at 22, before a Southern Maryland attack error gave Harford a 23-22 lead.
After another Hawk timeout, Hall would serve for a second point, thanks to another Southern Maryland miscue for a 24-22 advantage and after one point for the opposition, Harford would take the 25-23 set win on, fittingly, another Hawk error.
The fourth set saw the Hawks build an 8-3 lead, but Harford would keep it close with a scoring run of its own to make the deficit just one point, 8-7. After a few more possession changes, the Owls would see themselves down two points, 12-10 before the Hawks took a three-point lead on a Wolfe kill and extended that advantage to four on the Tucker kill that saw Zeller injured.
Playing without a libero and fresh legs from a substitute, Harford quickly saw the lead balloon to nine points, 20-11 as Southern Maryland coasted to the 25-15 set and match win.
The Fighting Owls return to action on Saturday when they travel to Northern Virginia for a 2:00 p.m. match before kicking off a three-match homestand on Monday, September 21 with a 7:00 p.m. match against CCBC-Catonsville.