Halloween was last week.
But after last night's 13-15, 15-2, 15-6, 15-10 regional semifinal volleyball victory over Meade, Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar was still talking about ghosts and goblins.
"After losing the first game, I was like, 'Can we come back from this?' " said Dunbar, whose top-seeded Falcons are 16-0. "I said, 'Well, we've done it against .500 ballclubs or less. But can we do it against better ballclubs?' "
The answer came emphatically behind senior outside hitter Cassandra Melton (16 kills) and sophomore middle blocker Jen Conner (eight kills, three blocks), who also went 14-of-16from the service line.
Added Dunbar: "It did cross my mind that this would be a repeat of last year."
Ah, last year.
Exorcising that demon in the Class 4A Region IV title game Friday night is goingto be a bear -- particularly because the Falcons are playing the Broadneck Bruins.
Broadneck ousted the Falcons from the regional semifinals a year ago before losing the regional title to eventual state champion Glen Burnie.
And frankly, Conner is getting tired of reading about it.
"We beat them earlier in the season, but this is where we lost to them," she said. "This is regionals, and I know we can do it again."
But it didn't look that way when the Falcons lost the first game.
They blew a 6-1 lead and fell behind by as much as 10-7, thanks to the hitting of Vonnita Pinkett and Amy Neff and the serving of Nicole Smith.
The contest bore a strong resemblance to the regular-season meeting between the two squads Oct. 22, when the Falcons defeated the Mustangs, 15-9, 15-11, 15-10.
That victory didn't come without a struggle. The first two games were tied four times each, with Severna Park facing three-point deficits each time. Even after the Falcons built a 13-6 lead in the final game, the Mustangs came within three points before succumbing.
Last night, however, the Vickie Hedgebeth-coached Mustangs didn't capitalize on their advantage in the second game and were clobbered by players like Melton, Conner and April Kaiser (12 kills).
The serving accuracy of Kaiser (19-for-19,) Catherine Kirk (16-for-17), Jamie Pirotte (23-for-24) and Suzi Sharpless (9-for-10) contributed to the Mustangs' control problems.
"They just kind of stood back after the first game and were like, 'Wow, we won,' " Hedgebeth said. "They just stopped playing. We weren't setting up our hitting players on the front line. They were making mistakes and opening the door for us, but we didn't take advantageof it."
To their credit, the fourth-seeded Mustangs (10-5) were digging well throughout the evening, so Melton started pounding the ball toward the back line, where they often mishandled it.
"I just wanted it so bad. I wanted to jump all over them while we had them down," Melton said. "I concentrated more on my hitting today. I tried tohit across more -- hitting the back line was more like luck."
COACHES' ALL-COUNTY VOLLEYBALL TEAM
April Kaiser, senior,Severna Park
Colette Marquis, senior, South River
Kennita Kirby Jones, senior, Broadneck
Catherine Kirk, junior, Severna Park
Nikki St. Clair, senior, Broadneck
Heather Hutson, freshman, GlenBurnie
Vonnita Pinkett, senior, Meade
Melody MacKinnon, junior, Glen Burnie
Cassandra Melton, senior, Severna Park
Julie Scott, junior, Broadneck
Amy Neff, senior, Meade
Anne Chicorelli, junior, Old Mill
Christine Baer, junior, Old Mill
Mary Pat Fannon, senior, Arundel
Erin Fisher, senior, Arundel
Amy Helms, senior, North County
Jaime Pirotte, junior, Severna Park