Perry Hall stuns Dulaney to win 4A North crown Baltimore County champs ousted in 5-game thriller

November 08, 1997|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Before last night's Class 4A North region final at Perry Hall, Dulaney coach Ian Blanchard appeared concerned that a series of lopsided playoff victories had taken some of the edge off his team.

As it turned out, a far bigger concern was a revamped Gators lineup itching for an upset.

Kristen Corbin had a game-high 22 kills, and Catherine Abgoon added 19 and four aces as the Gators upended the Baltimore County champion Lions, 15-5, 15-9, 8-15, 9-15, 15-9.

Perry Hall (12-5) advanced to Tuesday's Class 4A state semifinals at Essex Community College, where the Gators will face Bowie at 8 p.m. They will be in search of their first state title.

Gators coach Pam Wilt said her team has changed quite a bit since the Lions swept them in September. After finding a set lineup near midseason, Perry Hall has played with renewed vigor.

"They had basically blown us off the court back in September," said Wilt. "The kids have just worked very, very hard to get to this point. The entire season was practice for this day."

After sweeping to an easy victory in the first game, Perry Hall rallied from a 5-2 deficit in game two to take command of the match.

But that's when Dulaney (16-2) began to turn the tide. Led by Melaney Heagy, Jody Costa and Lisa Headd, the Lions started cutting mistakes, improved their passing and, by the end of game four, had reassumed control.

With the match coming down to one game, Dulaney figured to have the all-important momentum. To Perry Hall players, however, that simply wasn't the case.

"I never thought we lost the momentum," said Corbin. "We always had it, but we just started getting tired and letting down. We just kind of lost our minds for a little while, but we really tried to buckle down."

That's just what the Gators did, rallying from a 9-5 deficit to score the final 10 points. They clinched the victory when Teresa Graham's attempted kill sailed inches out of bounds.

"It's frustrating to play so well all season and come out so flat tonight," said Blanchard, whose team had swept to three-game victories in both previous playoff matches.

"The girls came out thinking about Tuesday rather than today. They looked past Perry Hall. I saw it in the warm-ups, and I knew we were in trouble.

Alyssa Phoebus (16 kills) and setter Stephanie Xecominos (10 kills) also made solid contributions for Perry Hall, which will return to the state semifinals for the first time since 1995.

The players, however, will first have to get over the emotion of this one. "We all wanted it so much," said Corbin. "It's incredible; absolutely incredible."

Pub Date: 11/08/97

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