T. Johnson ends run by Kenwood Bluebirds' early jitters hurt vs. Frederick team

November 14, 1996|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

By the time No. 15 Kenwood got accustomed to the atmosphere at Essex Community College last night, the Bluebirds already had fallen too far behind in their state Class 3A volleyball semifinal.

Although they rallied in the third game, the Bluebirds had all but given away the first two games on poor passing and slow-moving receptions of serves.

Thomas Johnson (17-2) came back from a 10-7 deficit in the third game to finish off the Bluebirds' remarkable season, 15-4, 15-4, 15-12.

The Frederick team advances to the Class 3A state final at 5 p.m. Saturday at Catonsville Community College. The Patriots will meet No. 1 Centennial (18-0), the Howard County team that had lost only one game all season before pulling out a five-game victory over Charles County's McDonough in last night's other Class 3A semifinal.

For the Bluebirds (19-2), the end came too soon to the best season in Kenwood history and their first appearance in the state semifinals. Thinking about that probably cost them a few points at the end of the match.

"In the last game, I tried to make myself believe we could go farther," said Kenwood's top player Kim Griffin, "but as the points were adding on, I just couldn't stop thinking that this could be my last game."

Early in the match, the Bluebirds couldn't seem to get their feet moving on serves and continuously shanked the ball or didn't get under it. That helped the Patriots, who were runners up in Class 3A last year, to an eight-point run in the first game and a nine-point run in the second.

It didn't help that the Bluebirds had to wait more than an hour for the start of their match because Centennial needed nearly 2 1/2 hours to dispense with McDonough.

Still, Kenwood coach Susan Costello said her team seemed too relaxed before the match.

"That scared me a little bit, because I was more nervous than they were," said Costello. "Once they got on the court, it just overwhelmed them, and my team has a tendency, when things go bad in pressure situations, that it just gets worse."

In the third game, the Bluebirds took advantage of some Patriots' hitting mistakes and jumped out to a 6-2 lead. The Patriots started to battle back, but Kenwood held the lead at 10-7 and extended it to 12-10.

The Patriots closed it out on a couple of Kenwood hitting errors and Katie Korreck's kill through a Kenwood block.

"We made it here, and that was our goal all season long," said a tearful Griffin, who had four kills, as did Lisa Wilkinson. "Regardless of the loss, we came here as a team, and we are leaving here as a team."

Pub Date: 11/14/96

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