After losing its season opener against Glenelg at the beginning of September, River Hill coach Lynn Paynter challenged her team to use that match as a starting point and to try and get a little better each day going forward.
Judging by the team’s current five-game winning streak, including its most recent 3-0 sweep of Wilde Lake on the road Wednesday evening, it’s safe to say that the Hawks have answered the call.
“I’m excited about how I’ve seen the kids grow,” Paynter said. “We are at the point now where I’m excited for that next match and I think this is a team that is still proving to themselves how good they really are. Each point and each game, we seem to be getting better and better.”
River Hill (2-1 county, 5-1 overall) certainly looked like a team clicking on all cylinders from the very early stages of its match against a Wilde Lake (0-2, 4-2) squad that came in having won four straight of its own.
The Hawks took the lead early in the first set and methodically built on their advantage until they had captured a 25-12 victory. From there, they never slowed down — winning the second set 25-15 and the third 25-17.
Along the way, the consistent serving of the entire team — but especially Jasmine Maghari, Heidi Li and Ogenna Umeozulu — made a huge difference in establishing lengthy runs.
Devin Hill added some huge kills, while the combination of Li, Umeozulu, Shannon McCarthy and Robin Robinson all took turns at the net blocking Wilde Lake hitters.
“Something we’ve definitely talked about in practice is creating our own runs, getting multiple points in a row,” Maghari said. “At the same time, it’s keeping the other team from getting on their own runs. It’s definitely hard for us to get out of a hole, so by keeping ourselves ahead we never have to face that difficult situation.”
Wilde Lake showed some fight along the way, particularly early in the third set when the team held several leads. But ultimately, consistency proved hard to come by.
Wildecats’ coach Nick Sharp said part of that is having a young team that is still trying to find its identity. He also admitted that River Hill probably had a little revenge on their minds after Wilde Lake won the lone meeting between the two squads last season.
“Last year we beat them in four I believe, so I’m sure they were out for us tonight and we knew that going into it,” Sharp said. “We have just a really young team with only three returning players, so we are still working out the kinks. We compete pretty well at times, but we’ve got to figure out how do it a little more often against the top teams.”
Both team’s next games coincidentally will be against Reservoir. Wilde Lake will play the Gators on Monday, Oct. 2 and then River Hill will play them the next day.
River Hill (2-1, 5-1) def. Wilde Lake (0-2, 4-2) – 3-0 [25-12, 25-15, 25-17]
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