TJ self-destructs in volleyball playoffs

November 15, 2000

TJ self-destructs in volleyball playoffs

By DAN SPEARS / Staff Writer

ROSEDALE, Md. - Thomas Johnson volleyball coach Jim Dorsch had seen it all before. He still hated the ending.

For the second straight year, the Patriots faced River Hill in the Class 3A semifinals at Essex Community College. For the second straight year, they won the first game. For the second straight year, they self-destructed in incredible fashion.

The Hawks again pulled out all the stops late, using a late-arriving net game and deflated confidence from the Patriots to advance to the state final with a 11-15, 15-1, 10-15, 15-1, 15-4 victory.

"Same as last year," Dorsch said with a shrug. "I have no idea how we can pass so well all year, and especially in the playoffs, then come down here and fall apart."


Unlike last year, when Shannon Patrick hauled the Hawks into the final on her own, this year's five-game match had no true stars. Neither team got much of anything started offensively, and both teams collapsed when playing on the north end of the court.

River Hill nearly tied it in Game 4 without even giving TJ (16-2) a chance to serve. Megan Mitchell opened the game with 14 straight points, but a kill by Kristen Palm and an error by the Hawks gave TJ its lone point.

On the coin toss before Game 5, TJ had the option: serve or pick sides of court. Dorsch chose to serve. River Hill obliged, happily.

"We've done this before," River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher said. "Hey, we kept winning on that side. I told them that before the final game. With young girls, you can play that completely up."

The Patriots couldn't play it down.

"We said we could come back," junior middle hitter Ashley Cregger said. "We did it against Liberty in the region. ... But when we had the huddles, no one was talking."

TJ only trailed 5-3 in Game 5, but a six-point run by Rosanna Drake essentially sealed it. Drake's second serve was headed out of bounds, but the Patriots played it and couldn't get the ball back over the net.

"In all those big runs of theirs, there was one serve really early that was out. And we played it," Dorsch said. "We need to see that. We need to let that go."

TJ couldn't let those serves go, and the loss wasn't easy to get rid of either.

"The girls soccer team lost to them, too," Cregger said. "We had everybody at school rooting for us, (the girls soccer) coach was saying we needed to beat them. A lot of people had us pumped up and we had that confidence. And then this ...

"It's very disappointing."

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