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