Volleyball notebook

Flint Hill edges South County, Stone Bridge rebounds from loss

Stone Bridge's Christine Beckham had a match-best 16 kills as the third-ranked Bulldogs overpowered Northern Region foe Robinson in three straight sets, improving to 6-1 on the season.
By Matt Brooks and James Wagner
Tuesday, September 14, 2010; 5:54 PM

As South County senior middle hitter Simone Antwi's name rang through the speakers during pregame introductions at Flint Hill's gymnasium Monday, Huskies' senior Tori Janowski let out a "whoop" and cheered for her opponent and friend across the net. Smiling, she turned to a teammate to her left and whispered: "I'm terrified of her hits."

With her team stuck in a hotly-contested first set, Janowski scored a ferocious kill that gave the Huskies their largest lead at 22-19. Three points later, another kill handed Flint Hill set point at 24-20. And on the ensuing point, as Antwi's imposing 6-foot-1 frame came flying toward net for a kill, Janowski rose up to meet her, blocking Antwi's ball down to the court to take the set and set the tone for Flint Hill's four-set victory, 25-20, 22-25, 25-17, 25-11.

"She's an amazing athlete and there's only so much you can do to post up against her hits," Janowski, a Virginia recruit, said of Antwi. "You see the ball going up and realize, 'I've got to block this girl.' You just kind of go up and hope for the best."

Janowski showed her versatility, seamlessly switching from hitter to setter and leading a balanced attack with 7 kills, 6 digs and 3 critical blocks. Fellow senior hitter Marilyn Peizer added plenty of firepower, tallying 12 kills, 11 digs and a block as the top-ranked Huskies (7-0) took full advantage of South County's inexperience with Antwi off the floor for long stretches of the third and fourth sets. But the No. 5 Stallions (5-1) held their own, especially through the first two sets. Antwi, a Florida recruit, finished with 16 kills and five blocks for the defending Virginia AAA state finalists who were coming off a victory in the Herndon Invitational Monday.

Flint Hill, which did not drop a set as it swept through a challenging field at a tournament in Virginia Beach Saturday, hosts Holy Cross (8-0) Wednesday.

"Games like this can really make or break your team's confidence this early in the season," Peizer said. "To be able to play through a fourth set against a team as strong as South County shows us we're where we want to be. You could just take it the other way, go to a fifth set and make it harder on yourself, but to be able to push through that mentally is a great boost for us."

In another top-10 matchup Monday, No. 3 Stone Bridge rallied to take a tight first set and then kicked its game into another gear to sweep then-No. 7 Robinson, 25-21, 25-6, 25-18. The Bulldogs (6-1) suffered their first defeat of the season Saturday at Loudoun County's Surebet tournament, falling to a highly motivated Raiders squad before rebounding to finish 2-1 in the event. Monday senior outside hitter Christine Beckham led the way with 16 kills to increase her season total to 96, while senior setter Amanda Miller posted 39 assists.

Northern keeps winning

With wins in its first two games, No. 8 Northern continues it dominance. The Southern Maryland school has won 21 straight matches dating back to its undefeated 2009 season capped by a Maryland 3A state title.

The Patriots, who return most of that young championship squad, feature senior Sammi Swann and junior Jasmine DeSilva, both hitters.

DeSilva unexpectedly came on strong late last season, especially during the state tournament when she was asked to play in the middle. With more experience this season and a move to the outside, the 5-foot-10 DeSilva is expected to play a larger role. Against rival Huntingtown in their opening match, the two hitters combined for 28 kills.

As the Patriots enter the bulk of league play, they have high hopes of claiming another state trophy.

"I know that's our goal," Coach Devin Hall said. "We've said that last year is in the past. So we are treating this season like last season and taking one game at a time."

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