All James M. Bennett of Salisbury knew going into yesterday's Class 3A East Region semifinal match against Mount Hebron at Centennial was that the Vikings were tall.
The height of Vikings senior Dani Vissers (6 feet) and junior Kate Hannas (6-3) proved too much for J.M. Bennett (4-10) as the Vikings moved past the Clippers, 16-14, 15-1, 15-11, in a tuneup for tomorrow's 6 p.m. showdown with top-ranked Centennial (20-1) in the 3A East regional final.
"I know my players were looking ahead to playing Centennial Friday," Mount Hebron coach Janine McCrumb said.
Ninety minutes after the match, Centennial coach Mike Bosom strolled over to McCrumb to congratulate the Vikings.
"See you in 48 hours," Bosom said of the much-anticipated showdown.
The Vikings (14-5) struggled through Game 1, falling behind J.M. Bennett, 12-9, as the Clippers took advantage of two unforced errors and strong serving by senior Cary Moazzom.
Mount Hebron, however, rebounded from a 14-12 deficit behind sophomore Kerry Quinn's serving and senior Lia Kaltreider (six kills), who scored the winning kill on a set by Hannas (six kills).
"I went to school here so I know that it gets hot in here and the ball floats well," McCrumb said. "In our first game we had a lot of serves going long because of that."
Although Mount Hebron struggled at Centennial earlier in the season, the Vikings provided the Eagles with a stiffer challenge last week at Mount Hebron before losing in three close games.
Game 1 yesterday served as the wake-up call Mount Hebron needed. The Vikings bounced back with a convincing 15-1 victory in Game 2 as Kaltreider served the game-winner that bounced off Bennett senior Nicole Mathew's arms in a dig attempt.
Mount Hebron appeared to be heading for another romp in the third game when J.M. Bennett took advantage of the Vikings' heavy substitution to get within 11-10. But Quinn served out the victory as Vissers' kill, her seventh, ended the third game, 15-11.
* Atholton 3, Glenelg 0: Jennifer Ponzette had six kills and five aces and Amanda Williams contributed eight kills as Atholton upset No. 5 Glenelg, 15-3, 16-14, 15-13, in a state 2A South regional semifinal match at Lackey.
Madigan Marth had seven kills and three aces for the Raiders (12-6), who lost twice to Glenelg during the regular season in three and five sets, respectively. Atholton will face either Chopticon or Great Mills tomorrow at 5:30 at Lackey for the regional title. R. A. Lowenbach added four blocks and Eileen McQueeney had 13 assists.
* Smithsburg 3, Wilde Lake 0: Toni Martin was 10-for-10 serving and had 13 assists and Alexa Robertson had 12 kills and eight points -- including three aces -- as Smithsburg (10-6) beat Wilde Lake (3-11), 15-2, 15-3, 15-2 in a 1A South regional semifinal match.