Four hours before last night's county championship match, Perry Hall's Beth Pancake sat in an emergency room getting four stitches in her right hand.
"I was so worried I wouldn't be able to play," said the right-handed Pancake, who gashed her knuckles on her car's overhead light as she tossed her backpack into the back seat. "My parents told me they didn't want me playing, but I said I want to win a county championship, I want to be part of this. I was determined."
The pain didn't stop Pancake, who had seven kills, second only to teammate Erica King's nine, as the No. 4 Gators beat host Chesapeake, 15-7, 15-3, 15-7, for their first Baltimore County volleyball championship.
Coming off an emotional high after dethroning defending county champ Loch Raven and clinching the Division I title Friday night, the Gators (16-4) needed a complete team effort to shake the scrappy Bayhawks (11-5). Stephanie Sanzone had five kills for the Gators, and Melissa Webster had four and setter Kim Opdyke added three.
"We really pulled together," said Pancake. "We were all really excited about winning the county championship and we weren't going to let anything stop us."
An excellent defensive team, the Bayhawks simply could not counter Perry Hall's balance of power.
"We just didn't have a lot of competition within our league to get us prepared for this kind of situation," said Chesapeake coach Cynthia Sagues. "We played some tougher teams earlier, but we haven't had any for nine games. It's hard to come off these easier teams and play the more difficult teams."
Still, the Bayhawks used their quick back-row defense to stay with the Gators early on. The first game was tied at seven before the Gators broke away with eight straight points.
Gators coach Pam Wilt said she was not worried even when the Gators seemed to struggle a bit and fell behind early in the first game.
"There was definitely a difference in the intensity of this match in comparison to Friday night," said Wilt. "The girls were just having a good time and they played well enough to win."
The Gators' offense really got rolling in the second game. After Chesapeake took a 3-2 lead, the Gators scored 13 straight points including eight on Webster's serve. Webster had two aces and a kill from the back row in the run while Sanzone also had two kills, both off Opdyke's quick sets.
For Chesapeake, Janet Walters led the offense with three aces and two kills and Shannen Reynolds had a kill and a couple of big blocks.
The biggest problem for the Bayhawks was holding serve. They made 12 service errors in the match, including four on the first seven rotations of the match.