Severna Park ended Northern of Calvert's 35-match winning streak with a 6-15, 15-10, 15-7, 15-5 victory in the state Class 4A volleyball championship final last night at Catonsville Community College.
The Falcons (19-0) needed strong back-row defense and big blocking plays to counter Northern's Kristin Kruse, who has attracted the attention of Division I college scouts. The 5-foot-11 nTC senior had 19 kills in the match to bring her season total to 233. But Kruse's crushing hits couldn't beat Severna Park's solid team effort.
The Patriots (17-1) rode Kruse's strength to a first-game victory. But Severna Park looked nervous and unsteady. Falcons hitter April Kaiser (9 kills) said they were intimidated at first.
"Kristin Kruse is an excellent hitter; she probably is the best in the state," Kaiser said. "I think everybody thought she was like an Olympic hitter and nobody could dig her. But once we started digging her and blocking her, it was a real lift."
In the second game, the Falcons blocked Kruse and went on the offensive. Kaiser, Cassandra Melton, Catherine Kirk and Jennifer Conner combined for strong net play. The Falcons converged on Kruse with a triple block at times. When Kruse couldn't put the ball away, the Patriots seemed to fall apart offensively.
Mount Hebron (16-3) fought off an early charge from top-seeded Liberty to defend its state Class 2A volleyball title, 14-16, 15-6, 16-14, 15-11, yesterday at Catonsville Community College.
Liberty (16-3) had a lead in every game except the second, but the Vikings just had too much power for the Lions. While the Lions relied on 6-foot senior Kelly Foreman for most of their offense, Mount Hebron had a court full of powerful hitters.
In the fourth game, the Lions held leads of 8-3 and 11-7 before the Vikings rallied. Jen Dohler, Brooke Christopher, Tracy Porter and Kai Scott all had kills in an eight-point run that capped the championship.
Centennial (19-0) needed only three games to beat Seneca Valley (14-4) and win its second title in three years, but the match was closer than the score indicated.
The fourth-seeded Screaming Eagles, from Montgomery County, played outstanding defense before falling, 15-13, 15-3, 15-7. They had used the same scrappy defense to knock off top-seeded Catonsville in last week's semifinal.
Seneca Valley took a 7-5 lead early in the first game. But Centennial adjusted its back-row defense to cover the lines. Centennial came back with a seven-point run on Hermann's serve and never trailed again.
Williamsport cruised to its fifth state title behind the power hitting of 6-2 Carla Houser and 5-8 Paige Graff. The Wildcats (18-0) from Western Maryland, took a 15-6, 15-7, 15-12 victory over Snow Hill (17-1), of Worcester County.