Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar has ignored the preseason litany that swept the league concerning the inexperience of Glen Burnie's volleyball program.
Basically, it went like this: "Glen Burnie's gonna get pummeled this year, because no starters return from last year's 18-0 Class 4A state champion volleyball squad, and Coach Juanita Milani is starting three freshmen."
"I know they're starting from scratch, but from Juanita, they're learning the game right," said Dunbar, whose Falcons defeated the visiting Gophers, 15-2, 15-5, 16-14, Friday to improve to 8-0 overall, 6-0 against the county.
"I know they're a mostly freshmen and sophomore team, but you watch, they'll be there in a couple of years."
Actually, the Gophers (5-2, 4-2) start two seniors -- Melody Mackinnon and Angel Newbill -- a junior, Melody Mackinnon, and freshmen Heather Hutson, Denise Warren and Jen Stapler.
And judging from they way they lost, it is going to take a couple of years.
Glen Burnie's serve-receive troubles in each of the first two games allowed the Falcons -- who also start just two seniors -- April Kaiser and CassandraMelton -- to leap in front early for big leads of 5-0 in the first game and 11-3 in the second.
"I was disappointed with the passing today, they can pass so much better," said Milani. "But they're working on it. They need experience and right now, we don't have it."
The Gophers came within 5-2 in the first game. The visitors led briefly, 1-0, in the second game and also came within 4-3, but couldn't maintain the intensity either time.
Severna Park simply powered its way back, thanks to 5-foot-11 junior Catherine Kirk (six kills), Melton, 5-9 Kaiser, 5-10 Kate Marks (each with three kills) and 5-9 Jen Conner (two).
"I can tell you for sure that there were at least two of the girls who were intimidated. They were like, 'Gosh, do I have topass that ball?' " said Milani, whose Gophers battled bravely in thethird game against Dunbar's reserves.
Five starters returned froma Falcons' squad that entered last fall's meeting with Glen Burnie at 11-0 before being humbled in straight games, 15-5, 15-3, 15-6. The loss spelled the end of a regular-season, 87-match winning streak.
The Falcons couldn't wait to dig their talons into a youthful squad which -- symbolically anyway -- represented the Gophers who ended their county title string at six.
"They were the defending state champions, but we wanted to show them what we had," said junior Jamie Pirotte, who was 7-for-8 from the service line with two aces.
Melton,who was 9-for-10 serving with three aces, said, "I think they had a few problems getting our serves back, and we practiced that. Our offense was a lot better than theirs."
And in exorcising a ghost from their past, the Falcons played like they were possessed.
Milani won her first county and state titles last year after finishing as regular-season runner-up to the Falcons the previous two seasons. The Gophers last had defeated the Falcons for the 1988 regional title.
"We kept knocking them off in the past, and then they came in and have this one great run for the state title," said Dunbar, who also has vivid memories of losing in the first round of the 1990 playoffs to Broadneck, which cost the Falcons their fifth Region IV title since 1985.
The Falcons next face North County, having avenged the loss to Broadneck -- and another to Chesapeake in last year's regular-season finale -- by identical 3-0 scores earlier this season.