Reservoir rallies to 1st state 2A final

Gators oust No. 1 Liberty in four games

Volleyball

November 16, 2006|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,Sun Reporter

COLLEGE PARK -- After losing the first game, 25-20, No. 2 Reservoir reeled off three straight wins over No. 1 Liberty last night to advance to its first state final in Class 2A.

The Howard County champion Gators won the last three games, 25-15, 25-19 and 25-22, and will play North East-Cecil at noon Saturday at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

North East-Cecil (18-2) swept Loch Raven in three games, 25-17, 25-12 and 25-12, as 5-foot-11 sophomore Brooke Foskey pounded 12 kills.

Jamie Thomas had 17 kills for Reservoir (19-1), and setter Jamie Huffman had 33 assists. Melissa Stansbury had 13 kills for Liberty (16-2) and setter Ash- leigh Swiontek had 29 assists.

Thomas said she and her teammates didn't mind falling behind against the Lions.

"We like being underdogs," Thomas said. "It's been that way all year. We've lost the first game before and came back. We fell two behind Glenelg and beat them. This feels awesome, and we want to be No. 1 in the state. That's been our goal."

Thomas had three straight kills to give the Gators a 4-3 lead in the crucial second game. They never lost the lead and Nicole Lanham closed it out with an ace.

Thomas, who also had a match-high 13 digs, finished with five kills in the game. In the third game, the 5-foot-10 Gators senior picked up where she left off, notching six more kills.

Her fourth kill of the third game was a bullet that followed one of the longest rallies you will ever see in a high school match. It seemed like it would never end until Thomas leaped and fired from the left side of the net to an open space on the far right.

Lanham, who came into the match averaging one kill per game, had four kills in the third game and finished with eight.

The final game was close as the Lions' Alex Mercer and Sam Walters contributed to keep their team alive until Susie Kemp closed it out with a kill.

Five-year-old Reservoir lost to Liberty in the 2004 semifinals, and the Lions went on to their second straight state championship.

Liberty was making its ninth appearance in the state tournament and owns two state titles.

Loch Raven (15-3), eliminated for the sixth consecutive year in the state semifinals, won state titles in 1987, 1988 and 1994. The Raiders were led by 6-1 senior Anna Navarria, who had seven kills and six digs, and junior Emily Christian, who had four kills and a team-high eight digs.

pat.omalley@baltsun.com

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