River Hill overtakes Glenelg

No. 5 Hawks fight back from 11-5 deficit in Game 5

High Schools

Volleyball

September 25, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

It sounds a bit strange, but River Hill's Megan Mitchell swears it's true. She loves playing volleyball when her team is behind.

"It makes me focus that much more," Mitchell said. "Our team is good enough and strong enough to pick it up when we're ready. When we need to, we play our game really well."

Those words were certainly true yesterday, as No. 5 River Hill scraped and clawed its way to a 15-5, 10-15, 13-15, 15-8, 15-13 win at No. 7 Glenelg. The Hawks got everything they could handle from the precocious Gladiators, but came back from a 11-5 deficit in the fifth game to earn the victory.

"We just kept saying, `It's not over, we want it, keep your intensity up,' " said Mitchell, a senior who led the Hawks in kills and digs last season. "[Glenelg] is a very good team, a lot better than I expected."

Both squads played some sharp volleyball, but in the end the Hawks (3-0) simply had more players play well in big moments. Senior Krystal Jacobson led the Hawks with 15 kills, and Alison Kupec played a stellar all-around match, contributing 10 kills, six blocks and seven aces. Mitchell was solid as well (nine kills, seven digs and three aces), scoring two big points to close out the match.

"With our new setter [Molly White], some of our kids are still adjusting to her setting style," said River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher. "But our seniors all came to Molly at different points and told her, `Get me the ball, I'm ready.' And when they did, she put them in great places."

After sleepwalking through the first game, the Gladiators (3-1) looked very much like they might knock off River Hill for the first time since 1998, taking a 2-1 lead. Setter Tara Stradling seemed to make all the right decisions, getting the ball mostly to Sarah Tersell (nine kills), Melanie Mills (seven kills, 23 digs) and Michelle Morgan (10 kills), a sophomore who came off the bench and played a big game.

Stradling even had seven kills of her own, mostly on quick sets over the net that consistently caught the Hawks off guard. But the fundamentals let Glenelg down at times, such as service receive. The Hawks finished with 16 aces, but many of those were the result of miscues on the Gladiators' part.

"We really needed to come into this match with more confidence," said Glenelg coach Jennifer Beal. "Our offense was a little shaky and we were trying to knock off some of the rust from the weekend, but really it was a matter of feeling confident against a good team."

"We knew they were a good team and this would be a very good match," Kupec said. "But we know what we need to do to win, and we can place the ball in the right spots."

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