Seasoned Eagles winning their way

October 12, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Last season, the Francis Scott Key volleyball team got off to a 6-1 start before it lost a tough five-game match to Monocacy Valley Athletic League power Smithsburg.

A tough schedule followed and the inexperienced, junior-dominated Eagles lost a few more close matches to finish 9-6 on the season.

This season, those same Eagles are now seniors, and second-year coach Leo Totten is hoping the year's worth of experience can turn those tough losses into wins. So far, so good.

Off to another fast start at 5-1, Key again met up with Smithsburg last Monday.

One of those seniors, Kristi Stambaugh, set the tone early by stuffing Smithsburg's top hitter, Zoey Hunt, on the first play of the match.

The Eagles went on to win in three straight tight games -- 15-11, 16-14, 15-13.

"Last year, we played well but lost a lot of close matches and our inexperience really showed at times," Totten said.

"Volleyball is a game of inches and the little things can really make a difference," he said. "So far this season, those little things are going our way."

Totten goes as far back with the eight seniors as they do themselves. Prior to taking over the varsity coaching position, he was the junior varsity coach and has coached them all four years.

In their sophomore year, they went 13-2 at the junior varsity level. The group is looking to put up the same kind of numbers this year.

"They are all super kids and have been very supportive of one another over the years," Totten said.

"They all have very different personalities and have gelled nicely as a group," he said. "It's really been a total team effort."

It starts with tri-captains Tina Smith, Shelley Smith and Jenny Baker.

Tina Smith is the team's top setter and Totten describes her game as "incredibly consistent." In two games last week, she hit on 46 of 47 serves.

The "Charlie Hustle" on the squad is Shelley Smith. "If the ball is ready to hit the floor near her, you can guarantee her body will follow," Totten said.

"I'm really proud of the way we've all stuck together as a team," Shelley Smith said.

"As a captain, I just try to keep everyone together and keep the morale up," Smith said. "Having played together so long gives us a big edge because we know where each other are on the court and what to expect from each other."

Baker is another versatile player who's the team's second setter and a leader on the court.

"I just try to set a good example by doing my very best," she said. "Not only have we had a chance to play with each other for four years, but we're also great friends which gives us even more unity."

Stambaugh has been a dominant player in the middle throughout the season with solid hitting and blocking, and Shelly Black is another who can play the back row as well as hit and block up front.

Christy Boesler and Aslynn Hinkle are fine passers and diggers out of the back row, and Damien Overholzer and junior Amber Smith platoon in back and up front.

It may have been junior Amber Smith who pulled the team together closest when she was in a car accident in the middle of last season.

"It was really tough at the time, but has helped us in the long run," Totten said.

"Emotionally, it has really made them stronger. We really try to stress everything they gain from volleyball should carry over in anything else they do."

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