GERMANTOWN -- South Carroll is becoming used to fifth-game victories over Linganore.
The Cavaliers used strong net play from Nicole Spencer and good serving from Amy Stephenson to score a 17-15, 8-15, 10-15, 15-7, 15-8 victory over Linganore -- their third five-game victory over the Lancers this season -- in the Class 3A West Region semifinal last night at Seneca Valley High School.
South Carroll (9-7) advances to the region final tomorrow night at 7 p.m. against Whitman, which defeated Kennedy, 12-15, 15-13, 10-15, 15-10, 15-12.
South Carroll won its first match with the Lancers by breaking a 2-2 tie. The second match was tougher, as the Cavaliers needed to rally from a 2-1 deficit for the victory.
"We knew it would be close," said South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton. "Going five didn't surprise us."
The Cavaliers could not get going early in this match. South Carroll made several ball handling errors, and the Cavaliers could not find consistency with their sets.
And the Cavaliers needed to do that after Linganore took two of the first three. But Stephenson gave South Carroll the jolt it needed early in Game 3 when she served seven straight points for a 7-1 lead.
Stephenson finished with 23 service points, but Eaton and some other Cavaliers agreed this stretch turned the match around.
"Any time you have a good server in position, and she gets a number of serves in a row, it gets us pumped up," said Spencer.
Stephenson pumped up her team once more in the final game. Linganore stayed close early, but South Carroll crept to an 8-4 lead before Stephenson reeled off four straight. The Lancers cut it to 12-8 before Spencer stepped up and served out the match.
Spencer also played a big role in the turnaround. The 5-foot-10 senior dominated play at the net. Spencer and Melissa Gettemy (five kills) made several big blocks in the last two games, and Kelly Johnson pitched in with a key block late in the final game.
In addition, Spencer sparked the Cavaliers on offense. The senior finished with 19 kills to play a big role in the South Carroll rally.
Spencer admitted that the Cavaliers were fading a bit after the first two games.
"We started to get down on ourselves," said Spencer. "We had to get our spirits up."