Francis Scott Key ousts Sparrows Point in 4 games

November 10, 1994|By Rich Scher | Rich Scher,Special to The Sun

The gym at Owings Mills High School has become a home of sorts to the Sparrows Point volleyball team. Each of the past three years, the Pointers have finished their season there, but with regional final losses to the Eagles.

Last night in their fifth straight Class 1A North region semifinal, another group of Eagles sent the Pointers on their latest unhappy trip back around the beltway.

Fifteenth-ranked Francis Scott Key lost the first game, but came back to win three straight in an 11-15, 15-6, 15-4, 15-7 victory at Owings Mills.

Key (13-4) will face Rising Sun -- 15-8, 17-15, 15-11, 5-14, 15-7 winners over Westlake -- in Friday night's regional final, again at Owings Mills.

For Eagles coach Leo Totten, whose team won the regionals last year before falling in the state semifinals, changing the tide in last night's match was as simple as changing his players' attitudes.

"We got into the huddle between the first and second game and I said, 'If I don't see everybody smiling, somebody's going to kiss them,'" said Totten, who added that his team's tightness quickly seemed to disappear.

"Our passing picked up, and that's when the setting and hitting picked up."

One of Key's biggest hitters was Stephanie Stambaugh.

The 6-foot sophomore collected seven kills for the night -- to go along with six each from teammates Ericka Rutzebeck and Maureen Ritcey -- to help give her team a big edge at the net.

Said Stambaugh: "Once we calmed down, we just figured we could play with them and start playing our game."

After winning 10 of the final 13 points to claim Game 1, Sparrows Point (10-7) never threatened until mounting a brief rally in the final game.

"It's our nature sometimes to start out really well," said coach Linda Day, whose team was led by the big hitting of junior Yozmin Gay.

"We got our confidence bashed a little bit and played down in the second and third game. We tried to come back in the fourth game but it was too late."

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