The volleyball season kicked off for a number of area teams on Friday, and Towson High was the site of a key non-conference match between two teams ranked in the top ten in this week’s Varsity Sports Network pre-season Top 20, as No. 4. Towson hosted No. 10 Severna Park.



The host Generals (1-0) wasted no time breaking into the win column, as they broke a 1-1 tie and cruised to a 3-1 (25-16, 26-28, 25-9, 25-15) victory over the Falcons (0-1).  A pair of junior hitters paced the offense, as Kelly Lacy and Lauren Bosse combined for 24 kills.


Both programs are perennial powers in area volleyball, both coming off solid seasons in 2009.  And both lost star players from last season, but also returned strong cores in 2010.


Severna Park went 16-3 last year before falling to eventual state champion Broadneck in the 3-A East regionals.  The Falcons lost Christi Laite to graduation and then lost Sam Henke to a shoulder injury for this fall, but the defending Anne Arundel County champion Falcons still expect to be a force this season under first-year Head Coach Dave Verostic.


Towson, meanwhile, had an outstanding season in 2009, losing just one match, as Head Coach Emily Berman earned Coach of the Year honors.  The Generals, Baltimore County champs, went 17-1 and came oh so close to winning a state title. They reached the state Final Four, before losing to River Hill in a semi-final’s classic.  The 2-2 match ended in the fifth-game tie-breaker, with River Hill eking out a 15-12 win. And despite losing star setter Kat Lincalis (now playing at UMBC), Berman and company have their sights set on another run at a state championship.


That run started on Friday evening, as spectators packed a hot and humid gymnasium on Aigburth Avenue to see these two teams get the season underway.


Towson jumped out to an early lead and a pair of service aces from Bosse made it an 11-7 lead.  The Generals increased that margin and won the opening game, 25-16.


But the Falcons bounced back to win an exciting game two.  Megan Poskaitis gave Severna Park a big lift with four straight service points off of her jump-serve, as SP jumped out to an early 7-2 lead.  Towson answered with seven straight points to turn that five-point deficit into a 9-7 lead.  Verostic called time-out to stop the run and steady his team.


The teams traded mini runs and the visitors reclaimed the lead.  Towson’s Talia Shapiro, a junior libero, made a sensational diving one-arm dig to save a point, and give her team a point, evening the score at 18-18.  Bosse nailed two hard kills off of assists from Ally Teuten to give THS leads of 21-10 and 23-21.


The teams traded two-point runs and it was 26-26, a crucial point in the match; a couple points for the home team would have resulted in a commanding 2-0 lead, and a couple points for the visitors would even the match.  The Falcons got those important points, as Towson mistimed a kill and then hit an attacking shot long and out-of-bounds.  Verostic saw his team weather the storm for a 28-26 win and a 1-1 tie.


After the match, Berman looked back and noted her team’s resilience.  “This was a problem last year.  We could play well in one game and get a lead, and then go in a lull and just let up.  But we also find a way to get it back and step up our game.”


“The girls were confident after game one and really lost control of game two early on. We were able to come back, but Severna Park really controlled the tempo of the entire game. Our passing and hitting broke down and it was tough to recover from it,” added Berman.


But Towson did recover.  After allowing Severna Park to get back in the match, the Generals clamped down, raising their game to the next level and cruising in the next games.  The Falcons were never in the next game, as Towson put up an easy 25-9 win.  This time there was no let-up, as Berman’s team claimed the fourth game, 25-15, to win the match.


For Severna Park, senior OH Carli Converse posted a double-double in a solid outing with 10 kills and 17 digs.  Poskaitis added seven kills, while senior Katie Liccione matched Converse with 17 digs. Sophomore setter Kim Bell paced the offense with 25 assists.


“It was a rough start for our young team,” said Verostic.  “Towson played tough defense. We were trying new things on offense and came up a little short in a hard fought match. We will look to correct some mistakes and rebound against Dulaney on Tuesday.”  Verostic and staff are certainly putting their Falcons to the test early on, with matches against No. 4 Towson and No. 14 Dulaney back-to-back to begin the season.


Lacy led Towson with 13 kills and Bosse wasn’t far behind, as she added 11 kills to go along with three blocks and one ace.  Teuten, a junior setter, had a hand in most of those kills, as she handed out 26 assists.  Shapiro was active in on the defensive end, finishing the evening with a match-high 29 digs, and also added two aces.  Hannah Wohltmann, a junior, contributed six kills, five assists and four aces.


“After that second game, I went back to our game one lineup and it seemed to be gelling better,” added Berman.  “The girls didn’t get down early in the game and got their composure back and really took control of the match at that point. They know the expectations we have for them and that they have for themselves, so they knew what they had to do to improve from that loss and what they had to do to win the match.”


The Generals will look to keep that early-season momentum going when they play host to Atholton next Tuesday in another non-conference match.