Towson State's local connection a victory from national spotlight

November 22, 1994|By Kiah Stokes | Kiah Stokes,Contributing Writer

Towson State is one match away from a berth in the NCAA women's volleyball tournament, and the Tigers have done it without imports.

Tigers coach Cathy Cain said she is elated her team has done well by using local players: 10 of 11 players are from Maryland. "I'm proud we've got local talent," said Cain, a native of California and a former national and international volleyball player. "Our core is always going to be from Maryland."

Maryland and volleyball?

Volleyball is bigger on the West Coast, but Cain has taken her own West Coast seasoning and added it to the East Coast flavor of the Tigers.

Towson State (19-14), the Big South champion in its last season in the conference (the Tigers are moving to the North Atlantic next season), faces Southern Conference champion Appalachian State (29-5) at the Towson Center tonight at 7:30. The winner enters the 48-team NCAA tournament on Nov. 30.

Cain said she "depends on all six players on the court -- there really isn't one standout."

But with seniors Connie Blades (10.8 assists per game), Christy Hutson (3.2 kills) and Heidi Schaefer (1.2 blocks), the rest of the team can't help but to follow by example.

After winning a school-record 30 matches in 1993, the Tigers started this season slowly, losing their first four matches. By Oct. 25, Towson's record slipped to 10-12, and co-captains Blades and Hutson called a team meeting.

"We discussed the tension between the starters and nonstarters," said Blades. "The attitudes were getting out of hand."

The Tigers went 9-2 after the meeting.

"There was pressure on everyone to do well -- to be better than last year's team," said Hutson. "Last year, we were so excited, but this year we're not really excited -- we've stayed more focused."

Said junior Stacy Humphries: "It's like a dream come true. I didn't picture making it this far. I still walk around campus with a permanent smile."

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