Loch Raven rallies to 2A final

November 15, 1994|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Special to The Sun

Coming from behind is something that the second-ranked Loch Raven Raiders have done a lot in recent weeks.

Last night in the Class 2A state semifinals, they showed North Hagerstown that it's become just another part of their repertoire.

Trailing in each game, the Raiders used big streaks to rally in all three en route to a 15-9, 15-7, 15-11 victory at Catonsville High School.

The Raiders (17-0) advance to Saturday's Class 2A state finals at noon at Catonsville Community College, where they'll face Atholton, a winner over Stephen Decatur last night.

This is the farthest Loch Raven has advanced since it won back-to-back state titles in 1987 and 1988. Last year, it lost to eventual champion Glenelg in the semifinals.

According to coach Carol McPherson, the biggest battle the Raiders may face is with their own nerves.

"We tend to get nervous and then step it up," said McPherson, whose team also trailed Catonsville a handful of times before winning in the regional semifinals. "Coming from behind wasn't anything new for us, but that doesn't make it easy."

Though the Raiders improved to 107-8 since 1987, and still have lost just five games all season, their nervousness showed early in each game.

They trailed 4-2 in the first game before rallying to win nine of the next 10 points to take control. Then, in Game 2, after falling behind 3-0, they scored the next eight points.

The Raiders then finished off their Western Maryland opponents by coming back from third-game deficits of 5-3 and 9-7 to win 15-11.

The Hubs (12-6), from Washington County, played well in all three games, but couldn't keep up with Loch Raven's size and power up front.

"Once they started getting set on offense, we got intimidated," said North Hagerstown coach Tracy Cianelli, whose team lost to Glenelg in last year's state final. "All year long, they've been coming back from behind."

All match long, hitters Kelley Powell (10 kills) and Tiggy Stevens (nine kills) battered the Hubs up front. The Raiders then kept their opponents from scoring, playing what McPherson said was one of their best defensive performances of the year.

The Hubs were led by Krissy Kurtyka and Alice Stevens, each with just three kills.

"They didn't have a whole lot of big hitters so they tried to bump a lot," said setter Shannon Towner, The Baltimore Sun's 1993 All-County Player of the Year, who had a game-high 21 assists, "We were just so much bigger than they were."

Loch Raven now goes on to play for the Class 2A state title, something they haven't won in six years.

Whatever happens Saturday, it has already been a memorable season for the Raiders.

"We finally get a banner on the wall," said Towner.

Said McPherson: "I'm really proud of my kids. They played as a team, which is what they've done all season."

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