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Down 2-1, No. 1 Glenelg averts upset by River Hill

The ninth-ranked River Hill volleyball team will look back at the game against top-ranked Glenelg as the one that slipped through its hands.

River Hill had Glenelg on the ropes, up two games to one, but from there everything went downhill. The Gladiators fought back on the road to win the match, 25-16, 13-25, 17-25, 25-6, 15-7, and extend their winning streak to 24 dating back to last season.

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The Hawks (2-2 overall, 2-2 Howard County) entered yesterday's league match a day after upsetting No. 6 Mount Hebron in three games. Riding that momentum, River Hill had a chance to defeat defending Class 2A state champion Glenelg, but the Gladiators (4-0, 4-0) finished off the Hawks with an impressive rally.

"I told my girls before the match that River Hill beat Mount Hebron, and they were surprised. I knew River Hill would be capable of beating us," said Glenelg coach Jen Beall. "This team has played from being down before."

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All-Metro volleyball Player of the Year Tara Stradling sparked the Gladiators' comeback in the fourth game. Stradling dished out two of her match-high 42 assists to Stephanie Sims, who spiked home two straight points. Sims then served and won 10 straight points for a 14-2 lead.

River Hill committed 15 mis-hits that led to Glenelg points. Stradling served out the game, winning the final five points to even the match at 2-2.

"There was a momentum loss after Game 3," said River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher. "Glenelg started to push us harder in the final two games."

In the fifth game, which is played to 15 points, Stradling took over serving with the score tied at 6. Stradling's serving and setting along with Michelle Morgan's ability to finish (16 kills) put Glenelg at game point at 14-6. River Hill got a side out when Stradling hit her serve into the net, but on the next point Stradling set up Morgan for the winning spike.

"Nothing was going right for us," said Stradling of the first three games.

"We haven't practiced since last Wednesday [because of Tropical Storm Isabel and school closings]. We had to play our best today."

River Hill was led by Carly Barisich (six kills, five blocks) and Stephanie Jacobson (four kills). Barisich had a key block in the third game off a spike from Glenelg's Rebecca Tursell (14 kills) to give the Hawks a 17-11 advantage. Jacobson got the final two points of the game with spikes off assists from Barisich.

"Carly is a great player. She can do it all," Modispacher said. "We will look to her to make points the rest of the season."


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