Liberty rolls to championship, Glenelg falls short

state volleyball finals

November 15, 2008|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,Special to the Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK - Liberty's Amanda McCracken gets teased by her teammates because she doesn't show much emotion on the volleyball court.

"I love volleyball, but I've never been real loud," said the senior. "I just want to go out and do well, and then do it again.

Even McCracken, however, couldn't miss the significance of No. 10 Liberty's 25-17, 25-21, 21-15 victory over Rising Sun in the Class 2A state championship yesterday at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

The Tigers (12-7) enter the match as two-time defending state titlists (in 1A in 2006 and 2A in 2007), and were heavy favorites after knocking out River Hill in the semifinals Tuesday night. Rising Sun rallied from a two games to none deficit and a match point in that match.

"We never let our guard down," said McCracken. "I never felt comfortable even when we were up 22-15 in the third [game]."

The Lions (17-2) never trailed in the first game, using several kills by McCracken (14 kills) and Jordan Groose (four aces) to build a comfortable lead and cruise to a 25-17 win.

Liberty trailed early in the second game, but turned on the offense midway through. Trailing 14-10, the Lions got kills from McCracken and Groose, and an ace by Emily Reider (two aces) to pull even at 14-14. Rising Sun again took a brief lead at 17-15, but Liberty rallied to score 10 of the next 14 points to take the game 25-21.

The Lions spotted Rising Sun a short-lived lead before rallying to take a 23-15 lead in the final game. After the Tigers cut the lead to 23-18, Liberty scored two of the final three points to win the match.

"I think the emotion of Tuesday night was evident," said Rising Sun coach Rich Wilson. "I turned to my assistant after the first game ans said 'we're pretty much running on empty'. Give Liberty credit, though. They earned everything they got."

Liberty coach Lauren Eberhardt said the Lions ability to neutralize center hitter Lindsey Monger (19 kills) was a big part of the win.

"We spent most of our practices trying to find ways to hit around her," said Eberhardt. "I think we did a good job on her."

1A final

In the 1A final, Glenelg knew they would have to climb a steep hill to defeat Poolesville. As it turned out, there was a mountain in their way instead.

Glenelg (10-11) fell behind a dominant Poolesville (19-0) team and could never regain its momentum in a 15-6, 25-7, 25-13 loss in the Class 1A state volleyball championship at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum last night.

Just how dominant were the Falcons? Including last night's state championship, Poolesville went 58-1 in volleyball games this year, losing its only game to Williamsport in the regional semifinals. In Poolesville's starting lineup were four four-year starters and one three-year starter.

"They didn't do anything we didn't expect," said Gladiator's coach Don Beall. "We just didn't execute. We got beaten by the better team tonight,"

Glenelg got off to a rocky start, falling behind 5-0 and 9-1 in the first game. The second game was pretty much the same, with the Falcons jumping out to a 9-2 lead.

In the third game, the Gladiators rallied to cut a six-point deficit down to just four (15-11), but could get no closer. Every time the Gladiators would solve the Poolesville defense, the Falcons had an answer.

"We did a good job of covering their middles and forcing them to go outside," said Glenelg junior Carly Hawkins (three digs). "When we did that, we found out they were strong there, too."

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