— Dunbar made its first ever trip to the state Class 1A volleyball tournament at Ritchie Coliseum last night. Unfortunately for the Poets, the trip was not a fruitful one.
Dunbar gave Perryville (13-6) all it could handle in two of three games, but fell to the Panthers 25-21, 25-7, 25-22.
Tara Holland led Dunbar with six digs and three kills. Perryville was led by Morgan Tennant with 22 assists.
The Panthers will play Smithsburg, a 3-0 winner in the other semifinal, on Friday at 6 p.m. for the Class 1A state title. That game will also be played at Ritchie Coliseum, and will be a rematch of last year's Class 1A final, which Smithsburg won.
"We had some communication problems in the second game, but we battled in the other two," Dunbar (15-3) coach Dana Johnson said. "This was a great experience for these girls, and I'm so proud of them."
The Poets were the first Baltimore City school to make an appearance in the tournament since 2007, when Poly made the trip.
"No, I never expected us to be here," Dunbar senior Dawnyea Felton said. "It was a different experience for us, but definitely a great one."
The Poets really pushed Perryville in the third set. After starting the set down 9-0, Dunbar used kills by Felton and Damisha Hazelton to cut the margin to 15-14 midway through the set. A kill by Perryville's Morgan Tennant and an ace by Kayla Tome gave the Panthers the momentum back, 17-14, and Dunbar never recovered.
"I think we did Baltimore City proud," Johnson said. "We played well, acted like ladies, and lost graciously. If they do that, I've done my job."
In the first semifinal, Washington County's Smithsburg (16-3) took advantage of a height advantage and defeated Sparrows Point, 25-12, 25-10, 25-10.
Sparrows Point (15-3) was making its first appearance in the state tournament since 1999, while the Leopards are the three-time defending Class 1A champions.
Kayla Evelyn-Cunningham led the Pointers with six kills and five assists. Amanda Snowden led Smithsburg with 16 kills. Belella Payton has 27 assists for the Leopards.
"We came here and gave it 100 percent," Pointers coach Irene Kirkpatrick said. "I think nerves got the best of us in the early going, but we settled down. Defensively we hung tough, but their offense wears you down. "
The Pointers actually held the lead for brief points in the second set but succumbed to Smithsburg's experience and power game.
"We pride ourselves on our tradition," Leopards coach Rachel Brashear said. "We play some tough teams in Washington County, and that prepares us to come here and do well. We didn't really know anything about [Sparrows Point], but I thought they represented themselves well."
(at Univ. of MD Ritchie Coliseum)
Smithsburg d Sparrows Point 25-12, 25-10, 25-10
Perryville d Dunbar 25-21, 25-7, 25-22Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun