Hubs go five to claim first state volleyball crown

November 19, 2011|By DAN KAUFFMAN |
  • North Hagerstown's Mollie Johnson (6) celebrates a point in Game One with teammates Brynne Kirsch during the Hubs' five-game victory over River Hill to win the Maryland Class 3A state volleyball title.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — How much did winning the Maryland Class 3A state volleyball championship mean to North Hagerstown on Saturday night?

“I’ve been crying since the last point,” senior Autumn Fisher said.

“I’ve been nauseous,” Hubs coach Megan Crawford said.

The Hubs won their first state title in program history with a thrilling 25-19, 22-25, 14-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory over River Hill at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum. North had been 0-4 in four previous appearances in state finals.

“It’s such a great feeling, especially to be the first team at North to win a state championship,” Fisher said. “It’s incredible.”

It was as close a match as a state final ever could be. River Hill (16-2) actually won more points than the Hubs (103-101) and had more kills (57-53) and aces (9-6) while North (17-2) had one more block (9-8).

Ultimately, the stats didn’t tell the story: The Hubs simply came through when they had to in the last two games.

Tied at 22 in Game 4, a River Hill service error gave North the lead and a kill by junior Peyton Wallech gave the Hubs two game points. Kelly Davis’ kill saved one of them for the Hawks, but a hitting error on the next point gave the Hubs the win and forced Game 5.

Trailing 9-8 in the final game, Fisher went to work with three kills and a block in a 5-1 run that gave North a 13-10 lead.

“It was so energizing,” Fisher said. “I was a little nervous knowing we had the opportunity to win or lose depending on what we did. Those plays were amazing.”

Amber Wiswell’s last of her 19 kills gave serve back to River Hill, but on the next point, Wallech stuffed Wiswell to give North match point.

“We knew they were going to go to her,” Wallech said. “We just had to get a big block on her.”

Wallech finished the match off with a kill off the River Hill block, and the Hubs celebrated a state volleyball championship for the first time as a large North fan base erupted.

“Unbelievable,” Crawford said. “River Hill has a great program and they played us hard. We were a little shaky in Game 3 but we got the momentum back in Game 4.”

Wallech had six kills and Fisher added five kills in Game 1, when North used a 5-0 run to take an 18-10 lead and held on after River Hill cut it to 19-16.

A 6-1 River Hill run late in Game 2 gave the Hawks a 23-20 lead, and Wiswell finished the game off with the last of her five kills in the game.

North’s serve receive and defense faltered in Game 3 and prevented the Hubs from running a consistent offense, while River Hill played well — led by Wiswell’s six kills and two blocks — to take a 2-1 lead, setting the stage for the Hubs’ rally.

Fisher and Wallech each had 21 kills and four blocks to lead North. Brynne Kirsch had 41 assists, Mollie Johnson had 21 digs and Lauren Serafini added 14 digs.

Cassidy Davis had 12 kills, Caitlin Davis had 44 assists and 14 digs, Marta Roman had 16 digs and Wiswell added six blocks to her 19 kills for River Hill.

“Even though it didn’t go our way, it was our best match of the season,” Cassidy Davis said. “I have no regrets.”

“It was a great battle, a great match,” River Hill coach Lynn Paynter said.

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