Tigers out to re­peat as 2A Volleyball champs

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL SPORTS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

While the rest of teams are set to be­gin the 2A East Re­gion Sec­tion I Volleyball Tour­na­ment to­day, North East al­ready has a play­off win un­der its belt.

The fifth-seeded In­di­ans topped Har­ford Tech in five sets on Thurs­day to ad­vance to face top-seeded Ris­ing Sun at 6 tonight.

“We went out the first two sets and pretty much smoked them. I’m like ‘OK, we’re go­ing home in three.’ Then we lose the next two sets,” North East coach Richard Bow­ers said of Thurs­day’s first-round vic­tory. “Then, we win the third set 15-3, we blew them right off the court. I just don’t know what to ex­pect from this team. It’s been that way all year.”

The win earned his team a date with the de­fend­ing state cham­pi­ons. The un­de­feated Tigers re­turned five All-County play­ers from last year’s state cham­pi­onship squad, in­clud­ing two-time reign­ing Player of The Year Bre­anne Ha­ley.

“Those kids have played to­gether since they were fresh­men. It’s the same group of kids and they’ve got­ten bet­ter ev­ery year,” Bow­ers said of Ris­ing Sun. “We have ab­so­lutely noth­ing to lose. I told them ‘Go out and play. Have fun, play to the best of your abil­ity and do what you can do. There’s no­body out there that ex­pects us to win, so we have noth­ing to lose.’ It’s a very daunt­ing task. They’re the state cham­pi­ons and they’re re­turn­ing ev­ery­body from last year.”

The Tigers swept North East twice dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son, but that’s hardly un­usual. Ris­ing Sun has not lost a sin­gle set since a 3-2 win over Delaware Mil­i­tary Academy in only its sec­ond game of the year.

“We haven’t been chal­lenged a whole lot since then. The early sea­son did cause us to make some changes and it’s made us a stronger team,” eight-time Coach of The Year Rich Wil­son said. “In many re­spects, we’re bet­ter than we were last year. Es­pe­cially the last few weeks as the end of the sea­son has come near, we’ve re­ally sharp­ene­dened up some of our serv­ing and our pass­ing. We’re com­ing in pretty ready. We had a week of prac­tice and the girls are go­ing a lit­tle bit stir crazy be­cause they want to play.”

Ris­ing Sun re­peated as state cham­pi­ons in 2006 and 2007. With­out ques­tion, the Tigers are fa­vorites to re­peat, led by a core of se­niors that have reached the state semi­fi­nals each of the past three years and the fi­nal the last two.

Still, Wil­son knows noth­ing is cer­tain. He added that the hard­est task to ac­com­plish is beat­ing a team for a third time in a sin­gle sea­son.

“We’re anx­ious to get started. We re­al­ize what the chal­lenge is. We re­al­ize that even though we’ve come through the sea­son un­de­feated, from here on out, that doesn’t mean any­thing,” he said. “It’s play­offs, if you have one bad game, you can wind up on the out­side look­ing in.”

Also on Mon­day, Elk­ton trav­els to face sec­ond-seeded Fall­ston at 3 p.m.

The two teams did not meet in the reg­u­lar sea- son, but the Golden Elks wrapped up the year strong by win­ning three of their fi­nal four games.

“I think we just fi­nally start­ing to­gether as a team and just gelling and just play­ing well. Re­ally, that was my whole goal. It’s the best time to do that, to­ward the end of the sea­son to take us into the play­offs. I’m ex­cited to play Fall­ston, I think it’ll be a re­ally good game,” Elk­ton coach Amy Sex­ton said. “The keys for us is serv­ing. I know that they’re a tough serv­ing team so that’s what we’ve been work­ing on this week be­cause if we can’t pass, we can’t do any­thing else. I think if we can pass and re­ally serve tough, it’s re­ally go­ing to help us.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Sarah Williams, left, and Bre­anne Ha­ley, right, hope to lead Ris­ing Sun to a con­sec­u­tive 2A Volleyball state cham­pi­onship.

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