Laurel volleyball coach Mary Phillips could only remember Severna Park's 5-foot-9 hitter April Kaiser as "that blond-haired girl."
Kaiser was the blonde whose 21 kills contributed to the demise of Phillips' Spartans during a regular-season volleyball tilt.
And when Laurel lost, 15-2, 15-3, 15-11, to the Falcons in last night's Class 4A state semifinal at Montgomery County's Watkins Mill High, Phillips again had Kaiser to blame.
But this time, Kaiser (11kills) had plenty of help from some friends, like seniors Cassandra Melton (eight kills) and Kate Marks (four) and sophomore Jen Conner (four), in a match that took less than an hour to complete.
"We were flat, as lopsided as the scores were. But we won mostly due to the fact that we were serving very well, and they were making a lot of mistakes," said Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar, whose top-seeded Falcons(18-0) took five games to defeat the Spartans (14-3) in their regular-season match.
"But we have improved a whole lot since the last time we played them. We ran an offense much better than we did the first time."
The Falcons earned the right to face No. 3 seed Northern(17-0), which took five games to defeat Montgomery County's No. 2 Quince Orchard (16-1) in the earlier semifinal.
Northern, last year's Class 3A state champion with an 18-0 record, and Severna Park will meet in Saturday's championship game at 7:30 p.m. at Catonsville Community College.
From the outset of last night's contest, it was Kaiser who delivered the killing blows.
In the first match, which lasted just over 10 minutes, Kaiser served well on all 10 of the last points with two aces.
Melton, a 5-7 hitter who ranked second with 90kills entering the match, added four more in the first game. Conner added three kills, and Marks had two more kills with a block.
In the second game, which lasted five minutes more than the first, seniorCatherine Kirk took over with the score tied at 1 and served for a 7-1 Falcons' lead, including an ace.
Kaiser's service ace gave the Falcons a 10-2 lead and junior Lori Sharpless came off the bench to serve for a 14-2 lead with two aces. Kirk, who entered with 79 blocks,had a block and a kill in that stretch, and Conner had a block for the game-winner.
"We really showed our intensity in the first two games," Sharpless said. "So when Coach told me to serve in, that's what I did."
The Falcons trailed briefly, 9-7, in the final game but took a 12-9 lead on a kill by Conner, three errors by Laurel and another kill from Marks.
Suzi Sharpless, Lori's twin sister, served for two points as Severna Park led, 14-11. Kaiser's serve was unreturnable for the winning point.
"We played well, but I still don't think we've played at our best level," said Kaiser, who entered the matchwith a team-high 144 kills.