DENTON -- No explanation was really needed last night after Northern of Calvert tore through top-ranked Severna Park, 15-5, 15-10, in the championship match of the ninth annual North Caroline tournament.
It was a matter of the defending state 4A champions having too much power, lightning quickness and savvy for the Falcons.
Northern (13-0) came with power and more power at the net, with lightning quick seniors Joanne (Jo Jo) Marshall and Nicole Silver bashing one kill after another into the faces of Severna Park (13-2), which simply wore out at the end of the daylong tournament.
When Marshall and Silver weren't smashing the ball over the net, junior setter Holly Abbuhl was doing all the little things that help make Northern probably the best team in the state.
Abbuhl had 34 assists in the championship match, and Marshall and Silver combined for 24 kills.
"JoJo [Marshall] is a great player," said Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar. "She is something else. She is so good that we would have had a tough time beating them if we had been fresh. But we were so tired by the finals that we weren't moving and were out of it mentally and physically."
That made the title match a bit anti-climatic to the scintillating showdown between Northern and Centennial in the semis.
Severna Park had reached the finals with a 15-9, 15-11 victory over Bowie after the Falcons ousted Atholton in the first round, 15-8, 15-10.
Northern needed a stirring comeback against previously unbeaten and second-ranked Centennial (11-1) in the semifinals, 15-12, 15-4, to reach the championship match.
It was a rematch of last year's tournament championship match that was won in two straight games by Northern.
Centennial was three points away from winning the match, leading 12-9 in the second game after cruising, 15-5, in the first game.
But the Eagles gave the Patriots an opening when Briana Zolak's bad serve gave Northern a sideout, down 12-9.
Northern scored the next three points with the help of two unforced Centennial errors to tie the score at 12 and the Patriots suddenly took over the match.
They ran the table with three more points to take the second game and breezed in the third game.
In all, Northern outscored Centennial, 21-4, in the final stages of the second and third games.
Centennial had reached the semis by cruising past sixth-ranked Perry Hall, 15-7, 15-7, in the first round.
Seventh-ranked Glen Burnie and Bel Air both failed to survive in pool play yesterday and did not qualify for the final six in the 15-team tournament.
The Gophers went 1-2-1 in matches (3-5 in games) and Bel Air was 0-4 in matches (0-8 in games).