The Glen Burnie and Oxon Hill varsity teams handily defeated their competition in three games each in front of 200 fans at Watkins Mill High School yesterday to advance to Saturday's Maryland Class 4A final.
Glen Burnie hadn't made a state appearance under 13-year coach Juanita Murdock-Milanie in two years, when the Gophers finished second. Yesterday they needed only 90 minutes to improve to 17-0, defeating Seneca Valley, 15-12, 15-12 and 15-13.
Stacey Gilligan led the Glen Burnie offense with 19 kills and three aces. Christy Hutson added 10 kills and 18 of her 20 serves were successful.
Seneca Valley's Liz Frederick served nine of 10, including one ace. She added nine kills. But the aggressive net play of the taller, harder-hitting Glen Burnie team foiled the Screaming Eagles' efforts. To further complicate matters for Seneca Valley, miscommunication plagued the team and resulted in several unanswered volleys. Poor positioning, bad sets and static play cost the Screaming Eagles critical points, according to Coach Jeff Charuhas.
"We made critical errors at the worst times," he said. "It wasn't that they were so much better than us, it's that we played so badly."
After serving three aces into the center of Seneca Valley's players, Gilligan exploited a weakness. "It was like there was a big hole in the middle of them and I tried to hit the ball there whenever I could," she said.
By the second game, Glen Burnie used Hutson and Kelly Miller to block shots and spike balls over the heads of the smaller Seneca Valley players.
Tied at 7 in the third game, Seneca Valley misplayed another ball and Glen Burnie started to pull away. Seneca Valley tied the score at 12 before the Gophers, with the help of Hutson's serving and scoring talents, widened the gap.
Seneca Valley fought to stay alive. Glen Burnie had a 14-11 lead that was whittled down to 14-13 thanks to Frederick's efforts. But Hutson's rocket shots proved too much for Seneca Valley.
In the second match, Oxon Hill (17-0) held Springbrook to seven points in two games before the Blue Devils came within two and lost the final game, 15-13. The scores of the first two games: 15-3 and 15-4.
The aggressive net play of Emily Harris and the Arrington sisters, Patrice and Perrette, keyed the Lady Clippers' offense. "I told them to just serve the ball and don't go for the ace," said Coach Christine Johnson. "Just let your teammates do the work."
Despite Johnson's advice, sophomore Jill Eckenrode led the Lady Clippers in serves with 13 points. In the first game, with a 4-3 Oxon Hill advantage, Eckenrode served successfully 11 times to lead the Lady Clippers to victory.
With Eckenrode's serving and the Harrises' floor play, it took Oxon Hill 15 minutes less than it took Glen Burnie to win. Harris recorded five kills and helped keep the ball from landing on Oxon Hill's court.
At the line, Perrette used her height, racking up five blocks.
Springbrook (12-4) couldn't generate any offense despite the diving, hustling efforts of Cindy Weisman.
After being defeated in less than 30 minutes in the first two games, the Blue Devils roared back. But misplays and miscommunication helped Oxon Hill gain the state final.
Class 3A: Northern beat North Carroll, 8-15, 15-1, 14-16, 15-8, 15-8, and Rockville beat Catonsville, 1-15, 15-12, 15-6, 15-10, at Charles County Community College. The final is Saturday at 5 at Catonsville Community College.