volleyball

Gilman's Chris Kohler, left, and teammate Torben Ginsberg go up for a ball tipped by Loyola's Danny Finley in the Greyhounds' four-set win in the MIAA A championship Saturday. (Noah Scialom / Patuxent Publishing / November 2, 2013)

Gilman and Loyola Blakefield played inspired volleyball for nearly two pulsating hours in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference final, and the Greyhounds had the final word.

Gilman knocked off the three-time defending champion Dons, 25-22, 29-27, 21-25, 25-17 at Boys' Latin Saturday night to claim its first title since 2008.

The title ended Gilman's frustration.

After all, the Greyhounds had lost in their last two appearances in the final: 2009 and 2011.

No team Gabbey has coached in that stretch contained more balance than the 2013 Greyhounds.

It showed for second-seeded Gilman against fifth-seeded Loyola Saturday.

The Greyhounds received standout performances from a bevy of players, including Chris Kohler (15 kills), Torben Ginsberg (11 kills), Connor Paskoff (8 kills), Will Richardson (6 kills, 5 blocks), Tyler Wakefield (22 assists) and Jack Auen (21 assists).    

"Everyone else in the league this year had one star," Gabbey said. "We didn't. We were very balanced."

That balance helped Gilman (16-2) beat Loyola for the third time this season.

After a 15-15 tie in the first set, the Greyhounds picked up its play rest of the way and finished off the Dons on Kohler's kill.

Loyola (10-9) built an 8-1 advantage in the second set behind the serving of senior libero Giovanni Petronelli and senior setter Danny Finley.

But Gilman fought back from both deficits thanks in part to the excellent passing of Alex Witherspoon.

The Greyhounds scored the final two points a Jake Cohen serve that went into the net and a Kohler dink.

"We had a chance to win game two and we didn't do it," Loyola coach Tim Baier said. "And that really hurt."

Depite losing the second set, Loyola didn't quit and never trailed in the third set, prevailing on Ryan McGarvey's kill.

Gilman met little resistance early in the fourth set, jumping out to an 11-3 lead en route to winning it.

"I thought we played really well and probably played them as good as would could have for most of the match," said Baier, whose team upset top-seeded Calvert Hall in five sets in the semifinals. "Gilman is a very good team. They don't make many mistakes. They hit the ball hard. They are big up front and a lot bigger than we are."