COLLEGE PARK -- River Hill's path to a highly anticipated date in the Class 3A state final seemed pretty clear when the pairings for the state tournament were announced. Trouble is, somebody forgot to tell Towson.
The Generals gave the top-ranked Hawks everything they could handle and then some Tuesday, but River Hill prevailed, 25-16, 25-27, 19-25, 25-19, 15-12, in the Class 3A state semifinals at the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum.
The Hawks will face Northern of Calvert County, a 25-14, 25-19, 25-23 winner over Damascus in the other semifinal. The Class 3A state championship game will take place Saturday night at 7:30, also at Ritchie Coliseum.
The Hawks (17-1) fell behind 2-1 in games but wore down the scrappy Generals in the fourth game. With the teams tied at 15-15, River Hill used the serving of Caitlin Davis (five kills) and Laura Whitney (26 digs) to extend the match.
The fifth game was all River Hill. The Hawks took advantage of three serving errors by fifth-ranked Towson (17-1) to build a big lead and hold on for the victory. The Hawks won the match on a kill by Sarah Okey (17 kills) down the line, setting off a wild celebration.
"We made our mistakes, but we never let them get to us," said Hawks junior Megan Rosburg (13 kills, 16 digs). "When they served, they didn't get any runs. That was big for us."
The Generals played hard, but just couldn't pull off the upset. Towson got inspired play by senior hitter Emma Muhvich (25 digs, 12 kills) and sophomore hitter Kelly Lacy (10 kills, nine digs).
"As a team we played the best we've played, but not the best we could play," said Towson senior Kat Lincalis (12 digs, 45 assists). "All the games were close, but we just didn't win the little battles and the little points."
"They were the best defensive team we faced all year," said River Hill senior Sarah Gordon (17 kills). "They read us better than anyone else."
In the first game, Northern-Calvert (18-0), which will play for its ninth state title Saturday, took advantage of nine kills by Samantha Swann to defeat Damascus (14-4) of Montgomery County.
River Hill def. Towson, 25-16, 25-27, 19-25, 25-19, 15-12
Northern -Calvert def. Damascus, 25-14, 25-19, 25-23