DAMASCUS, Md. — For two games, North Hagerstown’s third-seeded volleyball team struggled against top-seeded Damascus in Saturday’s Maryland Class 3A West final.
The Hornets’ size on the front line was disrupting the Hubs’ attack, and North seemed to be feeling the pressure as Damascus took leads of 20-16 in Game 1 and 17-9 in Game 2.
North coach Megan Crawford’s words of encouragement did the trick.
“She told us we could do it,” said senior Autumn Fisher. “She had the confidence in us that we could pull it out and win.”
And so the Hubs did, rallying in both games before settling in and playing their best in Game 3 of a 25-23, 25-23, 25-11 sweep of the Hornets to win the 3A West title and punch their ticket for the state semifinals for the first time since reaching the Class 2A state final in 2007.
“I didn’t say a lot to them, just to relax. They were already looking tense and I didn’t need to add to that,” Crawford said. “I just told them to make good passes and good sets and take good swings.”
North (15-2) will face defending 3A state champion Towson (18-1) on Thursday at 8 p.m. at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum.
“We just beat (Thomas Johnson) at TJ and we came in here and won, so this is a big confidence booster for our girls,” Crawford said.
Damascus (16-2) hit the Hubs with a 5-0 run to start Game 1, but North clawed back and pulled within 13-12 with a 4-0 run.
The Hornets won seven of the next 11 points for the 20-16 lead, but North countered with an 8-1 run led by Fisher’s two kills and Michey Moody’s two aces to earn game point at 24-21. Damascus won the next two points, but Fisher’s last of five kills in the game won it.
The Hubs climbed out of an even bigger hole in Game 2 by winning 16 of the last 22 points. Damascus shot itself in the foot repeatedly with 10 errors in those 22 points — the Hornets had 35 errors in the match while North had just 19.
“Game 2 scared me a little,” said Fisher, who finished the match with 11 kills and five blocks. “But we know we can win, and we showed it. We pulled it out, and that’s all that matters.”
After the Hornets won the first two points of Game 3, the Hubs finally started playing up to their full potential while Damascus continued having problems. North went on a 17-3 run — with Fisher getting three kills and two blocks — to take a 17-5 lead and bring the finish line within sight.
“The first two games, we had a lot of passing mistakes,” Fisher said. “Once our defense picked it up, it showed on the court. Our defense leads our offense.”
Brynne Kirsch had 22 assists and Peyton Wallech added nine kills for the Hubs. Jessica Wivell had three kills, Lauren Serafini and Moody each had three aces and Iman Scott had two kills and a block. Johnson had 12 digs, Fisher had seven digs and Erika Lawrence added six digs.
Carly Marella had 26 assists and three aces to lead Damascus. Autumn Jenkins had 11 kills, two blocks and two aces, and Annika Schwartz added eight kills and two aces.