Thomas Johnson pops Colonels
Patriots knock Magruder from state volleyball semifinals, 3-0
With two highly regarded teams, each appearing in the Class 4A girls volleyball state semifinals for the first time since 2004, one may have expected a tightly contested match at Ritchie Coliseum Thursday night.
However, that would not be the case. Thomas Johnson (Frederick County) advanced to the championship match by defeating Magruder (Montgomery County) in dominating fashion: 25-14, 25-15, 25-13.
"I think we knew if we got a lot of balls up, we would be able to eventually shut them down, and they would start missing more and more," said Patriots senior outside hitter Stacey Niehoff. "As we did that I think our hitting picked up too."
With the victory, the Patriots (16-2) advanced to their first title match since 1998 behind outstanding serving and hitting. Niehoff paced Thomas Johnson with 13 digs and eight kills. Senior setter Melanie Springer added 28 assists and four aces. The Patriots nailed 14 team aces and hit .281 for the match.
"We worked really hard in practice serving to spots," said Thomas Johnson head coach Jim Dorsch. "It paid off tonight. … We have been to a lot of semifinals, but we hadn't been able to get over the hump."
With game one tied at six, the Patriots went on a 7-0 service run to seize momentum and a commanding lead. They also scored 10 unanswered points in game two after the match was tied at 13.
"Me and Stacey tend to get really long runs," said Springer, who recorded all four of her aces during the second-game run. "I wasn't really expecting it tonight, but why not?"
As for the West Region champion Colonels (16-2), the loss was their first to a public school team this year.
"I think there were some nerves," said Magruder boss Scott Zanni. "But the bigger problem was we couldn't pass their serves. … Another thing that was a hallmark of our team all this year was that we played pretty good defense. We didn't dig much tonight. We just had problems controlling the ball as a team."
Magruder recorded 22 kills, but hit only .024 for the match. Senior libero Andrea Fort led the Colonels with 14 digs, while setter Alison Musser recorded 17 assists.
The Patriots will face Broadneck (Anne Arundel) at 8 p.m. Monday for the Class 4A title.