As the ball came sailing toward the Severna Park bench at the end of the first game and a spirited Glen Burnie having won by 15-10, Falcons coach Tim Dunbar showed some rare emotion by punching the ball across the gym.
Mind you, Dunbar didn't swat the ball, he punched it.
The Falcons' coach, whose hair has not moved in 12 incredible seasons, had his calm, cool and collected demeanor somewhat disheveled. His players got the message and responded with three straight wins by scores of 15-4, 15-10 and 15-9 to defeat Glen Burnie, 3-1, in the Class 4A East quarterfinals.
"You get a little bit frustrated when the girls keep coming out so flat game after game, and some time it's going to come back and just bite us," said Dunbar. "We did the same thing last game and we've done the same thing in several other games.
"And if you do that against a really top-notch, state-level team, it's going to be all over."
In winning their fourth consecutive county championship last week and the 10th overall in Dunbar's 12 seasons, the Falcons lost the first game to No. 7 South River, 13-15, but stormed back to win by 15-6, 15-7, 15-13.
No. 9 ranked Glen Burnie (9-3, two losses to Severna Park) was no pushover and came into Severna Park revved up last night. The Gophers brought a large contingent of enthusiastic fans and parents, and with the Falcons faithful nearly filled the gym.
The Gophers were inspired and raced out 8-0 in the first game with setter Susan Sperduto and middle hitters Tiffany Jordan and Candice Redding leading the way.
"We were really psyched and we ended on a good note," said Sperduto.
Top-ranked Severna Park (15-1) caught up and was down 11-10 before Glen Burnie pulled away to win by 15-10 and the noise made it sound as if the Gophers were playing in Glen Burnie's house. The place was jumping.
Under Dunbar, the Falcons have gone 136-4 overall (132-3 regular season) against Anne Arundel county competition, three of the losses to Glen Burnie.
The Gophers knocked off the Falcons in the 1988 region final, in the '90 regular season (Broadneck defeated Severna Park in the region semis that year) and in the '94 inaugural county championship match.
Like all successful coaches, Dunbar has a long memory, so it was understandable he would read the riot act to his players after the first game. They rolled, 15-4, and never looked back.
"On the flip side, I thought our girls showed a lot of poise by not panicking and falling apart," said Dunbar.
"That leaves me to believe that when it [flat play] does happen, that we will work our way back into the match and find a way to win."
Gophers first year coach Kevin Guite said the Falcons' dominance in the middle was the difference and the stats bore him out. The Falcons had 25 of their 38 kills in the middle with Traci Sariscak posting 17 followed by Sarah Grimm, who battled the flu to perform, with 10 and Lauren Bessire with six.
"We knew from our earlier match [3-0 loss] with them, what they would do and I think our passing, serving and defense picked up, but we just got killed in the middle," said Guite, who also got fine defensive games from Mandy Wicks and Michelle Whitlock in the back row, and Carrie Bennett overall.
Severna Park's serving was also superb with Sariscak (18-for-20, two aces), Tracy Johnston (17-18-4), Lauren Boyd (16-17-1), Grimm (19-23-3), Natalie Hicks (10-10-1) and Megan Medford (14-16-1).
"We ended on a good note as hard as we played, " said Sperduto. "I'm really proud of the way we played. We did the best we could."
Pub Date: 11/10/98