Atholton wipes out slow start

November 12, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

INDIAN HEAD -- After finishing 5-9 a year ago, the Atholton volleyball team would have gladly accepted a .500 record this season.

But last night in Charles County, the Raiders went one better.

After dropping the first game, Atholton came back to win three straight in a 10-15, 15-10, 15-7, 17-15 win over Chopticon of St. Mary's County in the Class 2A South regional final at Lackey High School.

The victory puts the Raiders of Howard County into the Class 2A state semifinals for the first time since 1989. And after Wednesday's three-game win over Glenelg, Atholton (13-6) seems to be peaking at just the right time.

"I feel very confident right now," said first-year coach Sybil Kessinger. "I don't feel there's anybody out there that's going to show us anything we haven't already seen."

Yesterday, hitters Jennifer Ponzette and Amanda Williams showed the Braves (11-6) a few new things.

The duo controlled play at the net all night, taking passes from setter Eileen McQueeney and collecting 36 combined kills against an overmatched Braves defense.

"Amanda Williams had a career night," said Kessinger of the hitter, who had 17 kills. "Even if she made a mistake, she came right back and picked herself up."

After losing the final eight points and dropping the first game, Atholton began hitting its serves in bounds and quickly rebounded to win Game 2.

Players said the Raiders' early troubles were attributable to nerves.

"We came in and we were quite nervous," said Ponzette (19 kills), a transfer student from Pallotti, who said that Chopticon's lack of a big hitter made the difference. "We thought No. 41

[hitter Angeletta King] would be a big factor. But in the first game nothing happened, so we knew that we could do this."

Chopticon, which had defeated Great Mills earlier this week to advance, didn't help matters by making numerous mistakes. At times, the Raiders merely needed to get their serve over the net to win the point.

Still, Chopticon coach Joan Ritchie said she was proud of the way her team played.

"We didn't give it away," said Ritchie, whose team made it farther in the playoffs than any other in the school's 28-year history. "At times we were real tentative and not making adjustments quickly enough."

The Raiders will play one of the other three regional winners in the state semifinals next week. Some players from last season's sub-.500 squad said they never would have believed it a year ago.

"No, I didn't think so," said Williams. "Every person is just doing their job, and it's making us a better team. Words can't describe the feeling."

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