Panthers, Eagles likely to meet in postseason once again
Few things are more certain than a playoff meeting between the Bohemia Manor and Perryville volleyball teams.
The Eagles host Kent County at 6 p.m. Monday in the 1A East Region Section I Semifinals, a rematch of a postseason game they won last season.
Bo Manor (12-3) lost its season opener 3-1 to Perryville, but won its next 10 games.
“We have a really balanced rotation,” Eagles coach Sabrina Larmer said of her team. “I think there’s some key players in some key positions — having that offensive firepower and a good defensive specialists and our libero — that’s really been helping a lot.”
If the Eagles get past Kent County, a rematch with Perryville (142) awaits. The rivals seem to meet in the postseason annually, but Larmer hopes to change the tradition of the outcomes.
“When the pattern has repeated that we play them in playoffs — this is my fifth year coaching and we’ve seen them for five years — it’s definitely hard not to look ahead to them,” she said. “We definitely take playoffs one game at a time, but it’s always in the back of my mind that the road to states goes through Perryville. We play and we practice and really work on our strategy, how can we make this year different?
“It’s definitely a different team, even though we have a bunch of returning players, the feel and the vibe of our whole season has been much different than any of our previous seasons.”
Panthers coach Matt Borrelli expects the rematch.
“I fully expect Bo Manor to win,” he said. “Year after year, Bo Manor is the best team in the region that we have to play against. I’m fully preparing to see Bo Manor on Wednesday.”
Perryville is looking for a sixthstraight trip to the 1A state semifinals. Three of those years, the Panthers have reached the final, but have yet to capture the state crown.
Borrelli feels his team, led by a core of seniors, has the best chance to yet.
“The core of our team has been playing together on varsity now for their third straight year. That just makes things easier for me as a coach because they have that continuity and have that relationship and that rapport out on the court. That definitely helps going in, they’re all comfortable playing with each other and they’ve won pressure-packed games together before,” he said. “It’s awesome because the girls know what to expect from the pressure of being in a playoff game. I think because we’ve had a lot of success in the playoffs the past couple of years — we don’t take it for granted — but we understand what’s at stake. I think they’re able to play with more confidence because they’ve been in that situation before.”
Though the Eagles and Panthers have seen each other once this season, neither coach is putting too much stock into the first matchup.
“I haven’t been able to see Perryville play too much this season after we played them, but I know that they’re still a strong team and they’re well coached so they’ve definitely improved over the season, no doubt about that,” Larmer said. “We’ve definitely changed, too, over the season. We’ve grown offensively and mentally through our season. We faced some adversity with injuries and I feel like it’s really toughened us up and balanced us out a little bit.” Borrelli agreed. “Our team has changed a lot since then. I’m sure they’ve changed and improved a lot since then, too,” he said. “I’m not putting too much merit into how that game went because that was two months ago and both of our teams are very, very different, I’m sure both of our teams are better than we were back then.
“I know they gave a really good setter, they have two great hitters, and they have a great coach, so they’re going to be prepared. It should be a good game, it always is.”
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig
Gabby Goodnow leads an experienced Perryville team into the 1A volleyball playoffs.