Franklin gave Towson a wakeup call in the first set of the Class 3A North Region volleyball semifinals, but the hosts made the adjustments and advanced to the regional finals with a 14-25, 25-19, 25-12, and 25-20 triumph.
The Generals will host Bel Air on Friday, Nov. 8 in the regional title clash.
Early in the season, the Generals (15-2) swept the Indians (12-6) in three sets, but both teams had a much different look this time.
“I tried to forget the last time we played them,” said Towson junior Haley Hicklen, who led the Generals with 14 kills. “I wanted to go in like they were a fresh new team and they were. They played great and they were a totally different team, and so were we and we both played tough.”
Franklin was especially tough in the first game, when middles Whisper Fisher and Blaire Ross dominated, along with outside hitter Laryn Stewart.
Fisher had four of her team high 10 kills and Ross (8 kills) had a pair of kills in the middle, while Stewart had four of her six kills in the opening set.
The passing, led by libero Vaness Hollimon, was also crisp.
“Our passing, this time around was a lot stronger, and that allowed us to run our middles,” said Franklin coach Valerie Chromy, who credited setter Mara Izzard with finding the right hitters. “We really worked with our setter on knowing who to get the ball to and when to get it to them. If the middles are on, push the middles and she did an awesome job. Our setter has been strong all season.”
Towson coach Emily Berman knew what she had to tell her team between sets and they heeded her advice.
“I told them we are obviously not going to stop those middles,” she said. “They were incredible, so we have to force them to go somewhere else, so we made them go out of system and we forced it to the corner and we tipped a ton so they couldn’t go to there middles.”
Eight of Hicklen’s 14 kills came on tips to the short corner and five of senior Seldon Barroll’s nine kills came on tips.
“We just went out there and we just looked for the spots and we found them,” Hicklen said.
Hicklen had four kills and Barroll had five aces, including three in a row to end the second set, which Franklin trailed on 21-19 in the late stages.
Emmie Healey (10 kills) and Hicklen each had three kills and setter Sarah Lansinger added three aces in the third set.
The Generals led the fourth set 18-14, following Healey’s kill, but Franklin wasn’t done.
After a time out, they reeled off five straight points and led 19-18.
Stewart and Sabrina Ross had kills and Fisher added a block during the run, which prompted a Towson time out.
Hicklen took over the match with a kill to tie the set at 19-19, and a pair of aces which followed Indian hitting errors and suddenly they led 23-19.
Fisher stemmed the tide with a kill, but Melissa Race (5 kills) bumped a serve over the net for a point and Barroll tipped home the final winner.
Franklin coach Chromy marveled at her team’s comeback.
“I’m so proud of my girls,” she said. They came out fighting and they didn’t give up. We were coming back in the fourth game after losing two in a row and that shows a lot of heart and passion.”
Defensively, the Generals passion, spirit and defense funneled through libero Georgie Teuten.
“It’s a lot of pressure and she does a good job keeping everyone sort of composed, but excited at the same time.” Berman said. “If we get into a lull, she’s able to bring everybody together.”