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Little of this, little of that as Patriots top Warriors

September 06, 2006|by DAN KAUFFMAN

BOONSBORO - Early-season volleyball matches are similar to variety shows - coaches are never quite sure what they're going to see, but they usually expect a little good and a little bad, and hope to avoid the ugly.

It was no different Tuesday night as Thomas Johnson traveled to Boonsboro for the first match for both teams. There were moments of brilliance and moments better suited for blooper reels.

And there was one game - Game 3 - in which TJ showed what happens when all of its potential is realized at the same time.

In that one game, the Patriots put on a volleyball clinic. The back line made accurate pass after accurate pass, sophomore setter Melanie Springer set the offense in motion and hitters Lauren Cline and Bethany Springer finished their attacks with authority. It was an overpowering combination and it sparked TJ to a 25-22, 15-25, 25-18, 25-14 victory.

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After nothing went right in Game 2 - the Patriots made 15 errors - they regrouped and avenged their only regular-season loss last year.

"The second game, we should have finished it out and we couldn't pass the ball anywhere," TJ coach Jim Dorsch said. "The third game, we started passing it better, and that allowed Melanie to set the offense and Bethany and Lauren started crushing it."

Melanie Springer finished with 30 assists, 13 of them coming in Game 3. Bethany Springer had seven of her 13 kills and Cline five of her 12 in the third game.

Jenna Shank, Kirsten Thorson and Najiyya Franklin-Huff each had four kills to add depth to TJ's attack.

"I feel real confident (about this season)," said Dorsch, whose team will host four-time defending Maryland Class 1A champion Williamsport on Thursday in another early test. "We're probably nine deep, so that's a strength. We have weapons on the offensive side."

Jerica Hewett led Boonsboro with 10 kills and 10 digs, while Katie Gantz had seven kills and Lauren Wood had 11 digs.

The Warriors struggled early in Game 1, falling behind 13-5 before fighting back to make a game of it. They had a hard time getting any attacks down against TJ's defense, which gave up just three kills and one block in taking a 1-0 lead.

Boonsboro played a cleaner game in Game 2, getting five kills from Hewett and five assists from Tara Garver, who served out the final 11 points as the Patriots faltered.

"We communicated well the first two games but it seemed to taper off," said Faller. "That second game, we got really scrappy. We weren't letting the ball die, and it's that resiliency that we need.

"In that third game we began to get passive, and when you're playing a team like Thomas Johnson, if you don't stay aggressive they'll make you pay."

JV: Boonsboro, 2-1.

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