Pan­thers can’t close third set, fall in 1A state fi­nal

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GRO­GAN

sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

— Vol­ley­ball, even more so than other sports, is a game of mo­men­tum, and the shift of it at the end of the third set proved to be too much for Per­ryville to over­come.

The Pan­thers’ sea­son ended Satur­day the same way it has each of the past three years – with a loss to Smiths­burg in the state tour­na­ment, but Satur­day’s match was a far dif­fer­ent story than the pre­vi­ous two.

Af­ter win­ning the sec­ond game to even the match at one game apiece, Per­ryville ap­peared poised to take a 2-1 lead over the Leop­ards when it led the third set 24-20. But Smiths­burg rat­tled off six unan­swered points to take Game 3 for them­selves. The Leop­ards won the next set, too, to de­feat the Pan­thers 3-1 and claim a third-straight 1A state vol­ley­ball cham­pi­onship.

“I think we played as well as we’ve played in years,” Per­ryville coach Matt Bor­relli said. “I think the end of that third set when we just let them score — I think it was like six points in a row — I think that was the mo­men­tum shift that they needed and they fin­ished out the fourth set. I think if we had fin­ished out that third set, I think we would’ve won in four. Un­for­tu­nately, it didn’t go our way, but I’m proud of our ef­fort tonight. I’m proud of how we played and just dis­ap­pointed in how it ended.”

Though Per­ryville lost the open­ing set, 2519, it was the Pan­thers that car­ried mo­men­tum into Game 2. Per­ryville trailed 20-10, but cut its deficit to three, 22-19. Smiths­burg scored the fi­nal three points to take the set, 25-19, but the con­fi­dence gained from the rally car­ried over into the next game.

“Vol­ley­ball is a game of mo­men­tum,” se­nior Teri Wen­ner­sten said. “We had it go­ing into that sec­ond set and we car­ried on and we played re­ally hard and we used that mo­men­tum to our ad­van­tage.”

The Pan­thers never trailed in the sec­ond set. Wen­ner­sten be­gan the game with a kill and fel­low se­nior Gabby Good­now gave Per-

COL­LEGE PARK

ryville the lead for good at 3-2 with a block. It cruised from there to a 25-13 Game 2 win. Then came the third set. The Pan­thers turned a 19-all tie into the 24-20 ad­van­tage and were a sin­gle point away from tak­ing a 2-1 match lead. The en­su­ing 6-0 was their back­breaker.

“I think we were right there with them,” Good­now said. “I just think it was maybe a serve or a cou­ple serve re­ceive er­rors that killed us, but over­all I think that we all played well.”

The Leop­ards took the lead for good at 6-5 in the next set. They won it 25-20 to once again de­fend their state ti­tle.

In the pre­vi­ous two years, Per­ryville failed to win a set against Smiths­burg. The Pan­thers were a point away from win­ning two Satur­day.

“It’s all about know­ing you can do it … You’ve got to be­lieve in your­self,” Good­now said. “Com­ing in, I was ready to play. I was like ‘We can def­i­nitely win.’”

Se­nior set­ter Rose Porch agreed with Good­now.

“Ev­ery­one knew we had it in us,” she said. “We knew it was go­ing to be a fight, but we knew we could do it.”

Bor­relli said the Pan­thers had not reached 20 points in a sin­gle set against Smiths­burg in the pre­vi­ous three meet­ings.

“I couldn’t be prouder or hap­pier to coach a group of play­ers,” he said. “We could’ve won. That’s what hurts the most.”

Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GRO­GAN

Per­ryville se­nior Rose Porch tips the ball dur­ing the Pan­thers’ 3-1 loss to Smiths­burg in the 1A state vol­ley­ball fi­nal Satur­day in Col­lege Park.

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