Pan­thers punch ticket to state fi­nal in straight sets

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— The big stage of Univer­sity of Mary­land’s Ritchie Coli­seum is noth­ing new to the core of the Per­ryville vol­ley­ball team.

The se­niors on the vet­eran Pan­thers squad have reached the state tour­na­ment each year of their var­sity ca­reers. That ex­pe­ri­ence was ev­i­dent Tues­day night as Per­ryville swept McDonough, 3-0, in the 1A State Semi­fi­nal to earn a berth in Saturday’s cham­pi­onship game.

“I love play­ing here,” se­nior set­ter Rose Porch said.

Se­nior mid­dle blocker Gabby Good­now agreed.

“I like the at­mos­phere,”

COL­LEGE PARK

she said.

The Pan­thers de­feated the North Re­gion champs by set scores of 25-12, 25-16 and 25-20.

Per­ryville took the first game with rel­a­tive ease. It broke a 7-7 tie in the first set with five unan­swered points. When the Rams fi­nally tal­lied a point to stop the run, the Pan­thers scored four more unan­swered, the fi­nal three of which came from two kills and a block by Teri Wen­ner­sten.

Wen­ner­sten had eight kills and five blocks on the night.

“I have to give credit to Rose, my set­ter,” she said. “It’s all thanks to her, I couldn’t do it with­out her. She had some re­ally great sets that I was just able to play off of.”

Porch recorded 30 as­sists and eight digs.

Per­ryville jumped out to a com­mand­ing 13-5 lead in the sec­ond set, but had to with­stand a McDonough run that cut the ad­van­tage to a sin­gle point. Pan­thers coach Matt Borrelli called time­out with the score at 1513. The Rams twice cut their deficit to one, at 16-15 and again at 17-16.

“I think we just needed to make smart plays,” Good­now said. “It wasn’t al­ways about hit­ting or look­ing bet­ter, you just had to take the point back so you could take the lead.”

Good­now paced Per­ryville with 15 kills and three blocks.

The Pan­thers took the fi­nal eight points of the set to win it 25-16. The run be­gan with con­sec­u­tive kills from Wen­ner­sten and cul­mi­nated with an ace by ju­nior Libero Hai­ley Jones.

“When other teams go on runs, some­times you can feel a lit­tle pan­icked, but at the same time, we have such vet­eran play­ers that they just keep their com­po­sure,” Borrelli said. “They know it just takes one play to break a run and then we can get our own mo­men­tum go­ing from there. I think the ex­pe­ri­ence that they have to­gether has def­i­nitely paid off.”

Per­ryville trailed by as many as three points, 10-7, early in the third game. It tied the game at 10, but the teams traded ties and leads un­til the set was again knot­ted at 15 apiece. The Pan­thers took the lead for keeps

at 16-15 on a Good­now kill be­fore end­ing the match with a 4-0 run.

“I think their ex­pe­ri­ence to­gether def­i­nitely helps. Walk­ing into Univer­sity of Mary­land, it can be kind of scary and in­tim­i­dat­ing,” Borrelli said. “We don’t play in big gyms like this. So to have older play­ers that have been here year af­ter year, that helps calm down the nerves of some of the younger play­ers, too.”

Bea Mus­cella had five kills and four digs for the Pan­thers, Hai­ley Jones recorded 14 ser­vice points and 19 digs

and Brooke Reynolds added 11 ser­vice points and 13 digs.

While Per­ryville has a re­mark­able run of six straight trips to the state semi­fi­nals, it has an­other streak it hopes to end. The Pan­thers sea­son has ended in a loss to Smiths­burg in each of the past two sea­sons – a loss in the state fi­nal in 2014 and a semi­fi­nal de­feat a sea­son ago. Per­ryville will again meet its neme­sis in Saturday’s 1A fi­nal.

“We’re ex­cited that it’s them, that we get to see them for our se­nior year,” Wen­ner­sten said. “They’re a great team and we’re ex­cited to play them.”

Porch and agreed.

“I def­i­nitely think this is the best chance we’ve had,” Good­now

Porch said. “We’ve been play­ing with each other since we started, since fresh­man year. We’re con­nected.”

Borrelli ex­pressed a sim­i­lar con­fi­dence while show­ing pride and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for his team’s un­prece­dented run.

“We’re for­tu­nate to be back again this year … It’s not some­thing we take for granted. We’re happy to be here and we have a re­ally hard­work­ing group of girls,” he said. “We’ve got one more game left, so we’re go­ing to do our best to make the most of these next few days. Hope­fully we can come out with the win on Saturday.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GRO­GAN

Per­ryville se­nior Rose Porch, left, sets the ball to­ward se­nior Teri Wen­ner­sten, right, dur­ing the third set of the Pan­thers’ 3-0 sweep of McDonough Thurs­day in the 1A Vol­ley­ball State Semi­fi­nals at the Univer­sity of Mary­land.

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