Coaches give nod to strength-based alignment

September 15, 1995|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Sun Staff Writer

Baltimore County volleyball coaches may have to do some extra homework in this first year of divisional alignments based on strength.

"We can't take anyone for granted," said Perry Hall coach Pam Wilt. "We don't know much about some of the teams in the league. They've had to play Catonsville and Loch Raven, but they could have been overshadowed by them and still be decent."

Last year, Wilt's Gators won the county's Class 3A-4A division and fell to Class 1A-2A winner Loch Raven in the county title game. This year, the Gators find themselves in a powerhouse division that includes perennially strong Catonsville and Loch Raven, as well as Dulaney, Dundalk, Franklin, Lansdowne, Overlea, Owings Mills, Sparrows Point and Towson.

Division II includes teams that rank a step down -- Carver A&T, Chesapeake, Eastern Tech, Hereford, Kenwood, Milford Mill, Parkville, Patapsco, Pikesville, Randallstown, Western Tech and Woodlawn.

Most of the coaches prefer the new alignment, because it should eliminate the blowouts that have never helped anyone.

"Overall, I think it's going to be good. Teams on the brink and below now have a chance to be competitive, which is nice," said Pikesville coach Bob Talbert. "If you want to get people interested in the sport, you have to have competitive games."

"For us, it works," said Western Tech coach Ian Blanchard. "Eventually, I'd like to prove that we can be competitive in the powerful division with teams like Catonsville and Loch Raven. But those programs have been established for years."

While Chesapeake, Parkville, Patapsco and Kenwood should battle it out for the Division II title, Catonsville seems to have the edge on the competition in Division I. Loch Raven, Perry Hall and Dulaney should offer the top challenges to the Comets.

Because every team qualifies for the regional playoffs, even most coaches in rebuilding seasons see the new alignment as beneficial.

"Being in the stronger division is only going to make us better," said Owings Mills coach Lisa Meyer. "I hope the kids understand that they can be a better team and have a lesser record. I'm not conceding anything, because we have the potential to improve, but this will help toughen us for regionals."

In the Catholic League, Mercy looks to repeat as champion behind a talented group of juniors. Catholic, which nearly upset Mercy in the league championship last season, has the league's top returning player in Michelle Chilcote.

Oldfields, winner of two straight AIS titles, will be pressed to repeat its success. Bryn Mawr, Friends and Notre Dame Prep should be the main threats to Oldfields.

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