Class 4A Championship Match
n Urbana (15-3) vs. Northwest (17-1)
n When: 8 p.m. today
n Where: Ritchie Coliseum, University of Maryland
n Road to final: The Hawks had to battle hard for their first regional crown since 2009. In the 4A North region final, Urbana played on the road against a Dulaney team that had reached the state finals twice in the past five years. Urbana bounced back from a first-set loss and fended off the Lions late to hold on for a 24-26, 25-12, 25-16, 20-25, 15-10 win. The Hawks carried their momentum into the state semis, beating Eleanor Roosevelt 25-12, 31-29, 25-21. Earlier in the playoffs, the Hawks notched 3-0 wins over Northwood and Sherwood. Three-time defending state champ Northwest rolled through the West region, sweeping Richard Montgomery and Wootton before beating Bethesda-Chevy Chase 3-1 in the final. And the Jaguars remained dominant in the state semis, topping South River 25-10, 28-26, 25-18.
n Top players: Urbana—Trinity Burge, Jr., setter-outside hitter; Clarisse Diaz, Sr., libero; Evyn Banawoye, Sr., middle blocker; Makala Thompson, So., outside hitter. Northwest—Jenaisya Moore, Sr., outside hitter; Rachael Bennett, Sr., outside hitter; Michelle Bennett, So., libero; Isabela Neumann, Fr., setter.
n Outlook: The Hawks have shown great resiliency this season, but they are facing a juggernaut in the Jaguars. Northwest is gunning for its fourth straight state title, and it’s led by outside hitter Jenaisya Moore, who has been Maryland’s Gatorade Player of the Year the past two seasons. Northwest has gone 74-2 over the past four years and has made the state tournament five years in a row. Urbana is playing in a state final for the first time in team history, and none of its current players reached the state tournament before this season. Still, the Hawks are battle-tested after facing tough teams like Tuscarora (who they beat), Oakdale, North Hagerstown and Smithsburg during the regular season as well as Dulaney in the playoffs. Urbana setter-outside hitter Trinity Burge creates highlights all over the court, whether she’s making spikes at the net, strong hits from the back, nice sets or tough serves. Urbana also has a formidable defense led by Diaz, and others can make plays at the net. The question is, can such assets and the benefits of playing a tough schedule allow the Hawks to cope with Northwest’s talent and state championship experience?