N. Carroll goes down swinging vs. T. Johnson Five-game loss drops Panthers from playoffs

November 09, 1996|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,SUN STAFF

There will come a day when the 1996 North Carroll Panthers volleyball team can look back on yesterday afternoon's marathon loss to visiting Thomas Johnson and smile.

Right now, though, it hurts.

In last year's Class 3A West Region final, the Patriots needed just 45 minutes to sweep North Carroll in Frederick. After a surprisingly quick and easy win in yesterday's first game in Hampstead, it looked like more of the same for Thomas Johnson, but the No. 13 Panthers had other ideas.

In a match that lasted two hours and 37 minutes, including a fifth game that lasted longer than last year's entire match, the Patriots outlasted North Carroll -- 15-4, 11-15, 13-15, 15-13 and 19-17 -- to advance to next week's Class 3A state semifinals.

The two teams split their two matches during the regular season -- each team winning at home by the same 3-1 score -- and shared the Central Maryland Conference championship, so it was no surprise the region final went the limit and then some.

The final half of the fifth game was a microcosm of the roller-coaster match. The Patriots (16-2) took an 11-6 lead before the Panthers (14-4) rattled off eight straight points behind the hitting of Carissa Kreichauf and the serving of Lisa Beverly to take a 14-11 lead.

Four times the Panthers were on serve with a chance to close out the match, but the Patriots held.

Then, down 16-15, it was the Panthers' turn to respond as Amber Peltzer found a way to get the ball over the net into open space for a winner. After Kreichauf's 23rd kill of the day, the Panthers were again up by one, 17-16, but a cross-court kill from Christina Knutson got the Patriots even again. Leading 18-17, the Patriots finally closed out the match when Knutson and Cheryl Johnston combined to block a Kreichauf hit.

The Panthers went down swinging.

"It was intense and we handled it well," said Kreichauf. "Usually ,, when we face pressure, we get a little uptight. Today, we stayed loose and fought hard. I was thinking in the middle of it all, no matter what happens as long as we played hard and had fun, I can be happy with what we accomplished."

Along with Kreichauf, Beverly (11 kills) had a fine match. Karen Carter had a gutsy effort. Bothered by a bad ankle in the second half of the season, she left the court in the middle of the FTC Panthers' 15-11 game two win and after getting retaped, returned late in the third game to finish with six kills. All three standouts are seniors.

North Carroll first-year coach Lloyd Ford couldn't help but smile a little early.

"That's what it's all about -- two great teams and a great match that came down to overtime," he said.

Added Beverly: "We know we played our hearts out. That's how it was meant to be. Each team fought it out to the end."

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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