Coming into this season, River Hill volleyball coach Sybil Modispacher said she expected big things out of a core group of returning veterans, some of whom had played together for four years.
Those words may have seemed a bit optimistic at the time, especially for a team that finished just 7-6 in the county a year ago. Following last night's county opener at Mount Hebron, however, the lofty expectations seem justified.
The fourth-ranked Hawks scored the first 12 points of the match and rolled to a surprising 15-4, 15-10, 15-3 victory over the No. 5 Vikings in a Howard County League game.
"That's probably the best team effort I've seen from them in four or five years -- maybe ever," said Modispacher.
Paced by a band of hard hitters in Shannon Patrick (15 kills), Lisa Humphrey (10), Keiko Miller (five) and Krystal Jacobson (four), the Hawks (1-1 overall, 1-0 league) got off to big leads in every game and never trailed, using a crisp passing game and dominating serving (20 aces) to rack up point after point.
"That's a great way to start off a game -- with a big lead," said Patrick. "From there, we just kept pushing and pushing. We've been practicing really hard, and we just came out and played totally as a team. Everything was just clicking."
While River Hill was running away, however, Mount Hebron was trying in vain to play catch up.
The Vikings (1-1, 0-1) managed one sustained rally during the match, scoring seven straight points in game two to pull within four. That rally, however, proved too little, too late.
"We can't spot a team like River Hill any points at all," said Mount Hebron first-year coach Betty Golibart. "I think River Hill has experienced a lot of cohesion, which we are working toward."
Part of that cohesion took place last week in a season-opening loss to perennial state power Northern of Calvert County, where the Hawks were admittedly able to work out some kinks in their game.
"It was really too early in the season to play a team like that, but it was good because it set us up for this," said Modispacher. "We were able to find our weaknesses and fix them. I guess I knew that this team had the potential to play with anybody."
Golibart is hoping yesterday's match can have just such an effect on Mt. Hebron.
"My feelings are the score didn't reflect how these kids played," said Golibart. "River Hill certainly gave us a run for our money, and we didn't do some things well, but we did do other things well. Our serves weren't where they should be and our coverage wasn't where it should be, but overall I was real pleased."
Pub Date: 9/14/99