John Carroll persists, edges Calvert Hall in 5

5-time titlists lose second to Patriots, who are 12-0

Boys volleyball

High Schools

October 03, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Calvert Hall has won the only five Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association volleyball titles ever contested, and John Carroll now knows what kind of effort it's going to take to knock the Cardinals off their pedestal.

Relatively easy winners over Calvert Hall a month ago, the Patriots were pushed to the limit in a rematch yesterday in Towson. But, just two points from defeat, they rebounded to force a decisive fifth game and then rode senior Matt Fritz to the exciting victory.

Senior Seth Beck's spike down the line assured the Patriots of a 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory in a drama-filled match - pitting the MIAA's top two teams - that lasted more than two hours.

With the win, John Carroll, in its second year of MIAA volleyball, improved to 12-0. The Cardinals fell to 8-2 but could see the Patriots again in November in the MIAA finals.

"We haven't been that close all season," said Fritz, a 6-foot-4 outside hitter who powered his way to 30 kills, six in the last game. "We were all a little nervous there."

Perhaps Fritz was understating things, because for a lot of the match, the Patriots and their undefeated record seemed to be in jeopardy.

Playing in front of beating drums and some boisterous members of the Calvert Hall student body, John Carroll shrugged off a Game 1 loss to claim Game 2, but things started to unravel shortly after.

With the Cardinals' Jon Zahner winning some free points on his serve and Adam Evans and Chris Baldwin finding holes in the Patriots' defense, Calvert Hall took Game 3 on a block by Ryan Dougherty.

Calvert Hall rode that momentum into the fourth game, taking a 23-20 lead.

But just two points from winning the match, the Cardinals made two straight hitting errors.

Then, a kill by Patriot Dan Hinder, another Cardinals error, followed by Beck's kill off a nifty dig by Tyler Tilghman, who had 50 assists, forced the final game.

"To come back in that game, that shows me they have a lot of determination," said John Carroll coach Herb Simon.

John Carroll's intentions in the fifth game were clear. They set Fritz after every opportunity, and the senior, pumping his fist after each kill, responded.

"He told me to get him the ball," said Tilghman, the Patriots' setter. "He is the type of player that when he's on, he can't be stopped."

The Patriots built an 11-3 lead before sweating through some anxious moments late.

"I don't think we were worried about what happened in the game before. I just think we passed poorly," said Cardinals coach Jeff Blake.

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