The Maryland volleyball championships produced some of the most exciting games this season, with the 4A final decided by a narrow fifth game and the area's top-ranked team rallying to win the 3A title.
Blair High, which finished 17-3, began its run to the 4A state tournament two weeks ago by defeating Montgomery County opponents Watkins Mill and Whitman, ranked third and fourth respectively, in the regional tournament. But the Blazers lost to Dulaney of Baltimore County, 15-11, 12-15, 13-15, 15-11, 15-12, in the final.
Blazers senior setter Lisa Weir spent most of the three days prior to the final in bed recovering from a stomach virus. She struggled to gain her rhythm during the first two games and spent the fifth game catching her breath.
Still, she managed to contribute 38 assists.
"I love volleyball, but when I'm sick, it's so hard," Weir said. "The first two games, I didn't want to be out there; I wanted to be back in bed. . . . But I'm definitely happy with the season. There is no need for tears."
Senior outside hitter Nicole Reed tallied seven of her team-high 12 kills in the fifth game to lift Blair to a 12-10 lead in the deciding game.
But Dulaney junior setter Leanne Costa (15 kills) tallied two kills to help the Lions run off five straight points for the win. Dulaney finished the season 19-0.
Northern Rallies to Title
Top-ranked Northern rallied from game-point in the first two games behind the hard-hitting of senior Katie Radford to defeat seventh-ranked River Hill, 17-15, 17-15, 15-12, in the 3A final for its sixth state title of the decade. The Patriots finished the season 19-0 and did not lose a game.
The match featured two of the area's most powerful hitters--Northern's Radford, who had 20 kills, and River Hill's Shannon Patrick, who had 23 kills.
Northern trailed 14-12 in the first game but rallied behind two Radford kills. River Hill, which finished 18-3, led 14-13 in the second game before Northern senior Devin Karcesky served back-to-back aces to turn it around.
In the final game, Radford tallied two late kills before sophomore Cory Karcesky served-up the winning ace. . . .
In the 2A final, Centennial seniors Kim Emrich and Beth Stradling found themselves in a familiar position, when the Eagles (18-2) defeated Francis Scott Key, 15-8, 15-6, 15-11, to win a state-record ninth title, their eighth of the decade.
Emrich and Stradling completed their fourth season on Centennial's varsity roster with their fourth state title. They had eight and five kills, respectively. . . .
Paul VI finished 25-0 and captured its first Washington Catholic Athletic Conference title and its first Virginia Independent Schools League championship. The Panthers defeated North Cross, 15-5, 15-7, 15-9, in the VISL final Nov. 13.
Julia Ralston led Paul VI in the season-ending match with 10 kills and was named the tournament's most valuable player. Annie Hylton finished with 11 kills, and setter Elisabeth Moore had 27 assists. . . .
Maret rolled through the Independent School League schedule with a starting lineup consisting of just two upperclassmen.
The Northwest school finished 16-0 and defeated Model, 15-7, 15-13, in the tournament final.