Tim Dunbar calls his undefeated Severna Park volleyball team the "Notre Dame of Anne Arundel County."
What's that make Archbishop Spalding's volleyball team, which sports an identical 7-0 record?
"I can't compare this team with Severna Park, but I believe this is the best team that's ever played for Spalding High School," said Cavalier coach Linda Millford yesterday after watching her team breezepast Mount Carmel of Baltimore, 15-6, 15-5, 15-11.
"They're a talented group, and they're able to run a lot of plays that the public schools run. I couldn't be happier, and I couldn't ask for a better team."
What Millford does ask for, however, is a solid effort each time the Cavaliers take the court. While Spalding had an easy time with its winless Catholic League rival from Baltimore, Millford was not pleased with her team's overall performance.
"We had a lot of communication problems out there today," she said. "They weren't talking the way they usually do, and their hitting was off. But, I can't complain because we still won. As long as we have a goose egg on the right side, I'm happy."
The Cavaliers jumped out to a 9-4 lead in the first game following three powerful serves from senior Michelle Chin.Spalding lost service momentarily before sophomore Carrie Parson took over and blasted four unreturnable serves, including one ace.
"Carrie has no mercy on her serves," said Millford, in her fourth year at Spalding. "She still needs more time to learn the game, but she's doing real well, and we're looking for her to be our setter down the road."
Parson finished the match with two aces and 11 service points, despite sitting out the second game.
After falling behind 1-0 in the second game, Spalding strung together a nine-point rally behind the serving of junior Kelly Mabe. Mabe, known as "Little Killer" byher coach and teammates, finished the day with 21 service points.
Why do they call her "Little Killer?"
"When she first got here, she could walk under the net without bending over," said Millford. "Believe it or not, she's a big hitter. She's taken something off her serve to improve her accuracy, but she serves very well. She can hit ashard as anyone on this team."
Another one of the Cavaliers' big hitters is senior co-captain Jen Dixon. Dixon, who transferred from Arundel after her sophomore year, served the winning point in the second game and finished with 15 hits and two kills.
"Jen is probably my strongest hitter, and she's definitely my strongest back-row player," said Millford. "It's because of her and Amy Langville (six hits), that we're able to run the plays that we do out there.
"Amy is just strong all over the court. She's just a true talented athlete. She's got God-given ability, and she takes every advantage of it."
TheCavaliers' other captain is Chin. Millford describes Chin as the onewho "keeps the team together."
"Michelle will let you know when you do something wrong, and she'll also congratulate you when you do something right," Millford said. "She'll go over and say, 'nice hit' or 'shake it off' if someone does something wrong. That means a lot toa player that makes a mistake."
The Cavs made their share of mistakes in the third game and before they could say, "dink," they were trailing, 11-5.
Senior Angie Johnson (two kills) took over the serve with her team trailing, 11-7, and quickly brought it back to withinone. The Cavaliers went on to win the last five points of the match behind the serving of Parson.
Millford, who has limited mobility in her neck after surgery to remove a ruptured disk, believes she has seen enough to declare her Cavaliers the team to beat.
"I don't usually like to make strong statements about our team, but this year I thought I might as well go ahead and say that I think this is the best team in the Catholic League, and I think they should go undefeated," said Millford, whose team has defeated every team in the league.
"I'm not trying to sound cocky, but I'm just very confident in my team. I know what they are capable of."