Liberty wins 2A thriller

Lions outlast North East in five games, will face Glenelg for title


High schools


WALDORF -- Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said he didn't know what happened, but he did know that the final point went to his Lions to end a scintillating, 25-23 fifth-game victory over North East in the Class 2A state volleyball semifinals at North Point High last night.

Liberty won the first two games, 25-23 and 25-21, and North East the next two, 25-16 and 25-19. In the fifth game, each refused to lose.

"I have no idea what happened," said Trumbo, whose Lions staved off match point seven times. "I believe it was a block out of bounds. It was a very difficult call."

Junior middle hitter Alex Mercer, who led the Lions along with Melissa Stansbury with 14 kills each, said the ball on the Indians' return "hit the antenna" to give the Lions the match.

As a result, two-time defending state champion and No. 4-ranked Liberty advanced to the 2A final at 8:30 tomorrow night at Ritchie Coliseum in College Park to face No. 3 Glenelg (17-3) in a rematch of the 2003 championship encounter.

Liberty (17-1) upset the then-unbeaten Gladiators to record the first of two consecutive unbeaten seasons. Glenelg was too much for Loch Raven last night, earning a three-game sweep in a match that started more than an hour late because of the marathon first semifinal.

Volleyball games are decided by the team that gets to 25 points first and, if it goes to five games, 15 is the magic number. Liberty and North East almost had that many ties in the fifth game - a total of 14, 10 of them from 14-14 through 23 before a hit out by the Indians (17-2) gave the Lions a 24-23 lead.

"Sam [Walters] went up on their return and the ball hit the antenna," said Mercer, who also had five blocks. "I didn't want to look. The adrenaline was rushing through my body. I think everyone was a little worried, but we had to keep it inside and focus on the next play. We wanted the [six] seniors to get back to the final."

Kristin Steinnagel and Walters chipped in with six and eight kills, respectively, for the Lions and senior setter Lauren Tabor had 38 assists.

Brooke Foskey, a 5-foot-11 freshman, was the star for North East, the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference titlist, with 10 kills and four aces.

No. 3 Glenelg 3, Loch Raven 0 -- The Raiders put up a valiant fight against the powerhouse Gladiators (17-3) despite not winning a game. Loch Raven (19-5) started each game by staying close on the hitting of Anna Navarria and Emily Obert but could not sustain the effort. Glenelg's deep lineup, led by senior hitters Julie Hollrah (12 kills) and Brooke Winterling (13 kills) and setter Allison Gittings (28 assists), was too strong. Glenelg won by scores of 25-13, 25-12 and 25-18 to advance to its seventh state final. The Gladiators have won three state crowns, most recently in 2002.

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