Inaccurate serving has been a problem for South River's volleyball team for much of the season, and it put the visiting Seahawks at an early disadvantage yesterday.
"It's usually poor the whole match," coach Melissa Diehlmann said.
This time would be different.
No. 6 South River cut down on its service mistakes after the opening game and rallied to defeat No. 8 Glen Burnie, 11-15, 15-8, 15-11, 15-5.
"Our coaches told us that if we could keep our serves in, we could win," said Seahawks sophomore Mary Beth Duvall.
Duvall had eight kills, relieving some of the pressure on standout senior Pam Patterson (nine kills).
"Mary Beth and Kim Thomas [four kills] really picked us up," Diehlmann said. "Glen Burnie was really digging up Pam pretty much, but Mary Beth and Kim were putting them down."
The Gophers (8-3) were without their best player, junior setter/hitter Heather Hutson, who fractured a finger on her right hand trying to make a block against Centennial in Saturday's North Caroline Tournament. She isn't expected to be ready for Friday's rematch with No. 3 Broadneck. Glen Burnie upset the Bruins on Saturday, 15-11, 9-15, 15-12.
"We had no one to put the ball away today," Glen Burnie coach Juanita Milani said. "We had a lot of passing errors and things like that, but when you lose someone like Heather, you lose your offense."
South River (9-1), winner of nine matches in a row, took leads of 4-0 and 11-7 in the first game, but couldn't finish off the Gophers. Nine of its serves wound up in the net or out of play.
Glen Burnie's Stacey Ellenberger showed South River how it was supposed to be done, going 11-for-11 from the line in the game, and 17-for-17 overall. In one sequence, she helped turn a 4-1 deficit into a 7-4 lead, and later served out the last three points, with Denise Warren, Amanda Farlow and Amy Hutson each recording a kill.
There wouldn't be any more comebacks for Glen Burnie. The Seahawks overcame two deficits in the second game and led, 7-6, with Patterson serving. Her ace, and two kills from Thomas, enabled South River to pull away. The Seahawks never trailed in the third game, scoring the first five points with Jennifer Smith serving. Smith also served eight straight winners in the fourth game to break a 3-3 tie.
"They just go out there sometimes and aren't real pumped," Diehlmann said. "But once they start playing and get it together, they can play real well."