SILVER SPRING -- The drives may take awhile, but North Carroll is starting to enjoy playing in Montgomery County.
Playing in the Washington suburb for the second time this week, North Carroll turned in its second strong effort. The Panthers dominated host Einstein from the start and scored a 15-10, 15-6, 15-9 sweep in a Class 3A, West Region semifinal last night.
North Carroll (14-3) hits the road again tomorrow for the region championship. The Panthers play at unbeaten Thomas Johnson (16-0), who beat Magruder, 15-2, 17-15, 15-7, at 1 p.m. The Patriots have topped North Carroll twice already this season.
The Panthers, who defeated Kennedy earlier this week and have won 13 of their last 14, had success again last night against Einstein. The combination of good passing, serving and defense proved too much for the Titans.
"We played well," said North Carroll coach Don'a Martin. "We played a total game."
The Panthers controlled play the entire match. From the passing of Stacy Cook and Amber Peltzer to the strong spiking of Lisa Beverly, Karen Carter and Carisa Kreichauf to the good serving of Kathleen Tunney, North Carroll did it all.
The Panthers' excellent passing unleashed an aggressive offense. Cook and Peltzer repeatedly made perfect sets for Beverly (13 spikes), Carter (15 spikes) , Kreichauf (13 spikes) and others, who made good shots all over the court.
North Carroll finished with a near-perfect record in setting (52-for-53 in good sets) and Einstein simply couldn't stop the Panthers.
"We played as a team, and we worked as a team," said Cook. "It's definitely the key for [us]."
Einstein had plenty of chances, but it made too many mistakes. North Carroll forced the Titans into plenty of errors, but they made a slew of them without help.
The Titans got a big match from hitter Angela Keller. The 6-foot-2 senior came into the match averaging 4.1 kills per game and her power gave North Carroll trouble several times, but Einstein had a shaky match passing and could not get her the ball.
And when the Titans did get the ball to the net, North Carroll often took some of their steam away with strong defense.
"Our feet were constantly moving," said Tunney. "We were on our toes the whole night."
And the Panthers kept Einstein on its heels most of the time. ZTC North Carroll scored the first four points of Game 1 and rolled to victory, and the Panthers notched the first six points of Game 2 on the way to another victory.
Einstein never took a lead in the match until Keller got hot early in Game 3. Her two kills and a block helped the Titans take a 5-0 lead. But North Carroll scored the next six to regain control.