North Carroll leaves Owls behind in 5 After starting slowly, No. 11 Panthers claim 40 of match's last 54 points

September 25, 1998|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Even though Westminster split the first two games last night at No. 11-ranked North Carroll, the Owls dominated for long stretches. Westminster continued to control the match in the third game, jumping out to a 13-4 lead.

But something happened at that point. The Panthers began chipping away, pulled even, and despite losing that game, grabbed the match's momentum.

Kate Wall sparked the team with 15 kills as North Carroll rebounded to score 40 of the final 54 points for a come-from-behind 4-15, 15-10, 14-16, 15-4, 15-7 win over Westminster.

North Carroll coach Lloyd Ford, whose team was missing two starters, said he just shook his head after watching Westminster (3-2 overall, 0-1 in county, 3-2 in Central Maryland Conference) dominate the first game.

Abbie Cornett ruled the net to help the Owls rout North Carroll (5-0, 2-0, 5-0) in that opening game.

But Ford then made a slight adjustment that paid large dividends. He moved his front line away from the net in an attempt to give his smaller team a better chance to hit the ball over the taller Owls. The move worked right away as North Carroll began dumping balls over the Westminster line and scoring.

The Panthers came back and won a tough 15-10 decision in game two, and they began to score points simply because of their hustle. North Carroll chased down every ball and wouldn't let the Owls have anything easily.

"Whatever we achieve this year is going to come from us working out tails off," said Ford.

North Carroll kept doing that in the third game, rallying from the 13-4 deficit to tie at 14-14. Wall registered the point that seemed to wake up the Panthers and the home crowd, a lethal kill that sliced the lead to 14-9.

Even though they lost, Wall said North Carroll felt something change.

"Once I got that hit in the third game, everyone got the feeling," said Wall. "The third game was our charm."

Westminster then began inexplicably making a number of errors in the fourth game. Helped by the strong play of Ali Mulliken (20 assists, nine points), Tiffany Langan (10 points), Charis Fulton (nine kills, nine points), Tiffany Shearer (nine points) and others, the Panthers began to roll.

Wall's dipping serves gave Westminster trouble during a seven-point run which helped North Carroll take a 9-0 lead in game four. Lisa Tunney then came in to make four solid serves to close out the 15-4 victory.

The Owls made a number of unforced errors in that game. Ten of the 15 North Carroll points came from Westminster miscues.

Game five saw fewer Westminster errors but more aggressive play from North Carroll. Mullikin served the first five points for a 5-0 lead, and Wall added four more for a 9-2 lead. The Panthers then fought off some pressure from the Owls for the victory.

"We've got a young team, and we go up and down a lot," said pTC Westminster coach Michele Crouse. "It's just a sign of inexperience."

Pub Date: 9/25/98

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