When La Plata knocked off reigning state champion Northern for the school’s first every regional championship, Friday, there were few who didn’t have the Towson Generals as the underdog in Monday’s 3A state semifinal match.
Underdogs? At an undefeated 19-0? The thought had never passed the Generals’ minds, and the 3A North Region champions played like it, Monday, beating La Plata in three straight sets to advance to the 3A state finals.
“I didn’t feel like the underdog, and I don’t feel like the underdog Friday, either,” Towson coach Emily Berman said. “We are scrappy. Our tallest player is 5-foot-10, what can you expect? It might say 5-foot-11 on the roster, but we lied.”
Size was hardly a matter in the Towson win, as the girls’ defense covered nearly the entire floor and held off the Warrior attack to win in three games, 25-20, 25-20 and 25-19.
“Defensively, I think our girls are very disciplined,” Berman explained. “They are willing to let a ball go and learn from it, and say, ‘Alright, that girl has that shot in her repertoire, but I’m going to get it the next time,’ and offensively we picked up, so they were out of system and couldn’t go to Mary [Lavery] as much.”
Lavery was the Warrior go-to hitter, slamming 16 kills in the three games to teammate Taylor Profit’s 11, but the scoring scarcity amongst their teammates helped the Generals sustain tight leads and roll out of Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland with the win.
“I looked up [La Plata’s] stats and I knew [Lavery] was the person. We didn’t have the answer for her, but we did enough that it didn’t matter,” Berman admitted, saying the team had zero film on the Warriors.
“Going thorough our regional play, I was confident. “We were worried about the South, but I was thinking Huntingtown and Northern were who we would see.”
Towson and La Plata were trading blows in game one, with the Warriors taking the lead to 15-12. But, just letting their defense down for a mere second, the Warriors let the Generals change the entire game, and possibly the entire match.
Making an incredible play for the ball, Towson’s Emily Lansinger was able to just slip her fingers between the ball and the court to keep the Towson volley alive, and, with the Warriors staring to celebrate thinking the ball had hit the floor, Lauren Bosse bumped the ball over the net for the score.
One might think that it was just one point, but the pace that Towson began playing was of a newfound fire, and the Generals never looked back.
“It was a big momentum shift. Our energy was not good at all for those first couple points,” Bosse said. “We really stepped it up and started coming together as a team and playing for each other.”
Towson went on tie the game at 15-15 and took the lead with a Hannah Wohltmann ace, 16-15, and held on when the game tied at 18-18 and 20-20 before Bosse served to the 25-20 finish.
“Usually we are able to come off something like that and be like, ‘It’s alright. It’s not our fault.’ But today, it was like we weren’t playing like ourselves, and there weren’t any excuses,” said Warriors’ Kayla Stinson.
Wohltmann was more than the ace-server in game one, her defense throughout the night allowed for 10 digs and helped the Generals control the lead in game two from 4-3 to the 25-20 final, and the final game.
“I think it was just a matter of being in the right spot,” Wohltmann said. “It was about being smart about getting up and keeping your energy up.”
The Warriors finished the season 15-3, and recorded their first every regional title with a win over returning authority Northern, to which all the girls were excited.
“We felt good about it, I know I did,” Stinson said. “But for a lot of us, even subconsciously, the first time being here and the first time playing here was scary for us. I know it was scary for me.”
“We had a great year, and [the loss] does bother me, but I’m not going to dwell on it. I’m going to go to the positive side,” Warrior coach Catherine Lavery said. “We beat Northern, and I feel Northern is a much better team than the one we just played. But that’s volleyball.”
Whether they are better than Northern or not, the Generals are advancing to the 3A state finals to try and avenge their 2008 state championship loss to perennial powerhouse Centennial.
“This year, I think we are ready. There is a little bit of fire,” Berman said. “The name of Centennial in the volleyball community is everywhere, and even when you are not playing them, people ask you about them. We are sick of it, and we want to win.
“Watching [Centennial] play today, it is clear that they are vulnerable. You can disagree with me, but I think they are vulnerable. And I think it is just time that someone beats them.”
Towson 3, La Plata 0
Towson 25 25 25
La Plata 20 20 19