Like the little girl with the curl, when Colonel Richardson’s volleyball team was good, it was very good.
But when things went bad — whew.
A sudden lull consumed the Colonels in Merrill Morgan Gymnasium Friday and Rising Sun rallied to capture the 1A East Region Championship in a dramatic five-game epic, 25-22, 22-25, 21-25, 25-5, 15-10, preventing the Colonels from reaching their first state semifinal since 1996.
“There’s so much mental part to this game,” Colonel coach Jay Covey said. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence as a player and a coach. At points we played as well as we could have played, we did everything right.
“I was so proud of them to have them playing like they played.
“But all of a sudden we started making errors that are not normal errors.
Second-seeded Rising Sun, minus three key players for the second straight match, improved to 14-3 and will face West Region champion Williamsport in Wednesday’s 1A state semifinals at the University of Maryland’s Ritchie Coliseum in College Park.
“We had an incident on Wednesday and three of our players were hurt in a car accident just prior to the match,” Rising Sun coach Rich Wilson said. “We played a very emotional match (beating Elkton in the semifinals) n and it’s tough to try to recharge emotional energy in a day.”
Top-seeded Colonel (16-3) appeared to have all the momentum after absorbing several comeback attempts by the Tigers, needing to win either of the final two games to advance. But as sound as the Colonels looked for much of the first three games, fundamental hitting errors quickly began to mount.
Three kill attempts sailed long on a four-point service run by Lindsey Monger, and three other mis-hits fueled a six-point streak by Amy Rudolph as Rising Sun suddenly brandished an 11-1 lead in Game 4.
“The game where they took over n we were making a ton of unforced errors,” said Covey. “They didn’t have to do anything; just get the serve over to our side.”
Eight more unforced errors kept the Tigers serving for the rest of the game.
“I thought we had control of the match after the third game,” admitted Covey. “We were running things pretty much on our own, but in that fourth game we lost focus and let (Rising Sun) believe that they had a shot all of a sudden.
“If we could have come out strong in that fourth game, that would have put it away.”
Colonel’s only reprieve of the fourth game came on a smash by Jermara Trott that went long and bounced off the gym’s fire alarm, resulting in a five-minute delay as officials worked to silence the buzz.
“I don’t know what happened to Colonel Richardson in the fourth game; maybe they thought they had it won,” said Wilson, whose Tigers reached the 2A state championship before getting swept by Liberty last season. “That gave us the tip-start, and the fifth game is a crap-shoot. Two or three points can be the difference.”
Rising Sun never trailed in the deciding game after breaking a 1-1 tie with Colonel’s eighth and final service fault of the match. The Tigers ran off to a 10-5 lead before the Colonels got a sideout on a Tiger serving error and eventually closed to 11-10 on a serving spree by Trott. But Trott lost serve when Amy Krummel powered a kill through her block attempt. Rudolph later put the Tigers at match point with an ace - the Tigers’ 14th of the match - off Jordan Glessner, and Rising Sun claimed the title on a JaTyra Heath smash that sailed beyond the baseline.