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Warriors have good reason to be confident

November 16, 2007|By DAN KAUFFMAN

BOONSBORO - It's the kind of double-edged sword that causes coaches to lay awake at night wondering if their players will heed the warnings.

Boonsboro volleyball coach Andrea Parry is worrying about overconfidence as the Warriors prepare to face South Carroll for the Maryland Class 1A state title Saturday at 5 p.m. at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.

When the two teams played on Oct. 11, Boonsboro (13-4) barely broke a sweat in sweeping the Cavaliers 25-18, 25-18, 25-14. That makes the Warriors strong favorites to be crowned state champions for the first time since 1984, but Saturday is still more about competition than a coronation.

"I address it every day in practice, they have to come out and play like it's Poolesville or Williamsport they're facing, and not take anything for granted," Parry said. "They listen to me and nod their heads, but do they understand?

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"South Carroll wants to beat us. Williamsport beat us twice in the regular season and we beat them when it mattered. South Carroll says they've gotten better and are playing their best, but we are too."

While overconfidence is a potential issue, there's a lot of good that stems from the earlier meeting. There's no mystery involved, as there was against semifinal opponent Glenelg - Boonsboro knows what it will see against the Cavaliers (12-6). And the Warriors certainly won't go into the final afraid of what's waiting for them.

"We know how they play, so all we have to worry about is staying up and staying confident," senior Tara Garver said. "I know they're out to get us, so we have to be prepared for anything."

"It gives us a huge advantage," senior Katie Gantz said. "But we can't underestimate them. We don't want to go in overconfident and then not play to our potential."

The victory over South Carroll was the first in Boonsboro's seven-match winning streak to get to Saturday's final - going through the tough 1A West region to get there. The 1A West semifinal victory over top-seed Poolesville in four games gave the Warriors all the confidence and momentum they needed to avenge two earlier five-game losses to second-seed Williamsport with a five-game win in the 1A West final.

"It really was the Poolesville match," Parry said. "We had our ups and downs this season, but they were walking around the school that day and Tara kept saying, 'We're going to beat Poolesville.' After that match, the girls knew they were going all the way."

"After beating them, we got this huge feeling of confidence that we could do anything, we could win states," sophomore Alison Griffith said. "But we don't want to be overconfident, we want to relax and play our game."

Boonsboro gets the job done with tremendous balance. Garver - who averaged 2.4 kills and 4.5 assists per game through last week - is probably the most important piece in the puzzle because of her versatility. Gantz (2.3 kills, 0.58 blocks) was pivotal against Williamsport with her 10 blocks. Griffith (2.25 kills) has given the Warriors even more options from her left-side hitting spot.

"She could have come up from JV last year, but we chose not to," Parry said of Griffith. "Coming into this year, I knew she would be a big asset. She knows she has a large role, and to have that as a young player, she feels that pressure, but she handles it well. She thrives to do well, is a hard worker and she excels at everything she does."

The defense, led by senior Amber Nalley and junior Emma Dalton, made the difference against Poolesville.

"I know if I don't get the ball up, we don't have an offense and then we can't score," Nalley said. "Everybody has started to realize the defense helps the team as much as the offense. We saw against Poolesville that if we don't have defense, we don't have anything else."

"We couldn't be as far as we are without our defense," Dalton said. "They've gotten the ball up almost every time."

Parry expects a large contingent of Boonsboro students and fans to make the trip to College Park on Saturday, where they could be witness to a crowning moment in Warriors volleyball history.

"Everybody I pass in the halls is saying, 'Congrats! Go all the way!' Everyone's really pulling for us," Parry said. "We're going to have lots of fans at the game. The student body is there for us, which is wonderful, it shows school spirit. There's a lot of excitement."

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