Swamped Seahawks rally big-time to take region title Blown out 15-3 in 1st game, team sweeps next three

November 08, 1997|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

"TC With a new coach, only one senior and just two players with any "real varsity experience," no one expected much from South River. Not even Seahawks coach Wayne Minger, who said, "If you saw this team the first week of the season, you'd have said we'd be lucky to win a third of our games."

Those who saw North Caroline pummel South River, 15-3, in the first game of yesterday's Class 2A East region championship match, would have considered the Seahawks lucky to force a fourth.

But first impressions can be deceiving, as the 13th-ranked Seahawks proved in stunning fashion, rebounding to sweep the next three games, 15-13, 15-10, 15-10, to capture the region title. They face North Hagerstown in a state semifinal at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Essex Community College.

"We took a little while to warm up, but they finally settled down and started to play really good volleyball," said Minger. "It was a very even match. North Caroline is a nice team. They hustle all over the court and play great defense. We just had the spark today."

Juniors Jessica Freeman, Caroline Tippett and Marjorie Knepp showed the way for the Seahawks (11-6), who advanced to yesterday's final by defeating Poly (3-0) and Parkside (3-1).

Freeman, a middle hitter, recorded 18 digs and 13 kills, and Tippett, an outside hitter, had 19 digs and eight kills. Knepp, who served the game-winner in pivotal game 3, was perfect from the service line in 12 attempts.

Two more juniors, Emily Minnigerode and Lorin Smith, combined for 17 assists.

"Serving and passing made a huge difference for us," said

Minger, a former men's senior Olympic coach. "After the first game, we started passing well, and once we started getting the serves in, then it started to roll."

North Caroline rallied back and knotted the score at 13 in game 2 before Smith served out the last two points for the Seahawks to even the match.

The Seahawks fell behind 5-1 in the third game but kept their composure against a team that was using the entire gymnasium to keep the ball alive.

"We really wanted to win bad because North Caroline has beat us the last two years in the region game," said Freeman. "We just pulled our game up a couple of levels."

South River's lone senior, Tiffany Slentz-Whalen, and juniors Christy Tilman and Laura Peterson contributed with solid defensive play.

"The reason we won is because we played as a team. Nobody played as an individual," said Tippett.

With the decisive fourth game tied at 9, the Seahawks closed out the match with a 6-1 run that Freeman capped with a match-clinching spike.

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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