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River Hill, Poly fall in semifinals

The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK -- The focus of last night's Class 2A state semifinal match was on North Hagerstown's 6-foot-4 Kate Zimmer and No. 7 River Hill's 6-2 Maddi Lee.

Although Lee played well, it will be Zimmer and North Hagerstown playing for the state title.

Zimmer and her teammates outkilled and outblocked the Hawks for a 24-26, 25-21, 26-24, 25-22 victory at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum, ending Lee's stellar career.

The Hubs (17-1) will face defending state champion Rising Sun, which defeated No. 14 Poly, 25-15, 25-8, 25-13, in the other semifinal. The 2A state championship will be played Saturday at noon at Ritchie Coliseum.

Lee (33 kills) and Zimmer (28 kills) will be roommates at Maryland and freshmen on the Terps' volleyball team next year. They played on the same club team last year.

"It was exciting," Lee said. "I've never played against such a good hitter. I really wanted to beat her."

River Hill, behind Lee's kills, won the first game, 26-24, but the Hubs shifted their defense to put Zimmer at the net for most points and took the second game, 25-21.

Early in the third game with the Hawks leading 10-7, River Hill's Alison Mariano was injured when a ball struck her in the face. She lay on the floor until the paramedics came 15 minutes later. After the injury, the Hawks never were the same. The Hubs tied the game at 15 and then outscored River Hill 11-9 the rest of the way to win, 26-24.

River Hill (15-5) got behind midway through the fourth game, but a rally came up short and the Hawks fell, 25-22. The game ended with Zimmer blocking Lee's kill for the winning point.

Sophomore Becky Paynter contributed 33 assists in the loss.

"I think they caught on to some of the habits I have," Lee said. "It's disappointing because I think we could have gone further. I told [Zimmer] she played amazing and that I was happy for her."

In the other semifinal, Poly (18-1) made its first trip to the state tournament but ran into a team making its ninth trip and the defending state 2A champion. The inexperience showed, as the Engineers fell in three games. The city champions, led by senior Shante' Mercer and Adreina McCullum, were on the defensive most of the night as the Tigers took advantage of a bigger front line and Poly mistakes to cruise to an easy win.

"We could have played better than we did," Mercer said. "Coach told us to go out and play our game, and we went out and played their game. What we did do, we could have done better."

Poly had its toughest time in the second game. The Engineers fell behind early and were their own worst enemy at times. Rising Sun (15-3), behind hitters Amy Rudolph (23 assists) and Selena Ortega-Marvel (15 kills), turned up the intensity, and the Engineers could never recover.

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