After Tuesday’s loss to Centennial High, River Hill volleyball coach Lynn Paynter thought the Hawks not being tested before the anticipated showdown hurt their cause. At Saturday’s Gator Invitational, River Hill was toughened against a strong field.
Getting a rematch with the No. 2 Eagles in the finals, the Hawks responded with a sweep, 27-25 and 25-17, to win the inaugural tournament crown at Reservoir. Senior hitter Sarah Okey had 16 kills for the Hawks, and Megan Rosburg added nine.
Facing elimination in game one, River Hill won the final three points, then pulled away midway in the second game to avenge Tuesday’s four-set loss on its home court. The Hawks relinquished a seven-point advantage in Tuesday’s second game and nine points in the fourth.
“I think they had something to prove; not to prove, show,” said Paynter. “Showing that we can do it and that’s what they really wanted. They did from beginning to end.”
“Tuesday was a big wake up call for us,” said Okey. “The main focus has been finishing. I know on Tuesday we would be up by a lot and let it up. All today, especially in this match, it was about finishing.”
River Hill was down, 25-24, after Okey’s shot landed in the net, but Cassidy Davis’ kill brought the Hawks to deuce. The Eagles weren’t able to return Nicole Rusconi’s shot, giving River Hill the advantage at 26-25. Centennial’s Liz Brown’s shot landed out, giving the Hawks game one.
Back-to-back kills by Okey gave River Hill a 16-12 lead, a kill later by Rosburg made it 23-16. Okey’s kill closed out the title for the Hawks, who got past host Reservoir in the semifinals. They were the top seed in their pool, winning seven of eight games in a field featuring Good Counsel, ranked No. 1 in the D.C. metro area by the Washington Post and Northern-Calvert (No. 6 by The Post).
“We played six, seven, eight great games,” said Paynter. “Wilde Lake started pushing us in the morning, and it never stopped. It was a good way to build up to this.”
Centennial outlasted Good Counsel in the semifinals after winning its pool. Eagles coach Larry Schofield was pleased with his team’s final two performances after a lackluster effort in pool play.
“They [River Hill] played very good offense and defense,” said Schofield, whose team played Severna Park, Francis Scott Key and Reservoir in pool play. “Trying to beat a team a three times, because we’ll probably see each other again in regionals, is difficult.”
Brown, who totaled 38 kills in the semifinals and finals, was chosen as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, with Brostrom (31 kills and five aces in semifinals and finals) making the all-tournament team. The rest of team include Okey and Melody Nazari from River Hill, Reservoir’s Paige Calvert, Jessica Turner from Wilde Lake, Chandler Mass (Northern-Calvert) and Good Counsel’s Megan Donohue.