Reservoir edges River Hill for Howard title

No. 1 Reservoir 3 No. 10 River Hill 2

October 31, 2007|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The practice shirts top-ranked Reservoir gives its volleyball players have a bull's-eye on the back. Last night, No. 10 River Hill took its best shot and didn't miss by much as the host Gators held on for a 3-2 win to capture their second straight Howard County volleyball championship.

Jamie Huffman led the Gators (15-0) with 18 kills and 12 digs, sparking the 17-25, 25-19, 25-16, 25-27, 15-10 victory. Julie Poston added 15 kills and four aces for Reservoir. Maddi Lee led River Hill with 33 kills.

The Hawks, who lost to Reservoir, 3-1, during the regular season, gave Reservoir all they could handle. River Hill (11-4) took a 4-0 lead in the final game before Reservoir coach Carole Ferrante called a time out. The Gators scored ten of the next 13 points to take a 10-7 lead. River Hill cut the lead to three several times but could get no closer.

"I told them to settle down and play their game," Ferrante said about the timeout. "I told them to go out and take control of the game, and that's what they did."

The game marked the first time this year that Reservoir, state Class 2A runner-up last year, was taken to five games.

"I think this will help us tremendously," Ferrante said. "Last week wasn't a challenging week for us, but it's good for us to get challenged like this right before the regional playoffs."

Reservoir appeared to have the match under control in the fourth game, leading 24-20. But the Hawks, behind University of Maryland-bound senior Lee, clawed back to win the game, 27-25, and force a deciding fifth game.

"We played really well, and I'm disappointed to lose, but they are a good team," Lee said. "I thought [momentum] was on our side, but it didn't happen."

The Gators have made no secret of their desire to return to the state championship and win it, but Reservoir senior Nicole Lanham said that would have been a hollow victory if they hadn't won the county title first.

"We want the three crowns," Lanham said. "First the county, then the region, then the state. Tonight was a big reality check for us. We can lose if we don't step it up against good teams."

River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher was disappointed with the loss but proud of her team's effort.

"We played five tough games," Modispacher said. "I couldn't be happier with the way we played. Each time [we play them], we get a little better. The mistakes I saw tonight were fixable for the regionals. I was pleased."

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