Key looks for best in volleyball semi Colonel Richardson is Class 1A opponent

November 14, 1995|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Francis Scott Key volleyball coach Leo Totten has checked around as best he could, but admits he doesn't know much about his team's Class 1A state semifinal opponent, Colonel Richardson High.

The way the Eagles have been playing this season, it may not matter.

Ranked sixth in the metro area, the Eagles (19-0) travel to Rising Sun today to take on Richardson, the Class 1A East representative from Caroline County. The match will get started at 5 p.m.

"In warm-ups, you can get a look at who their hitters are, see if they have any left-handers and check out their serving tendencies," Totten said. "I think it's an advantage. This way, you don't worry about who you are playing; you just go out with what you have and hope it's enough."

Richardson, located at the southern end of Caroline County, is 14-3 on the season and advanced to the state semifinals with a three-game sweep of Kent County on Friday. The official team nickname is the Gryphons, but assistant coach Chuck Grover said everyone calls the team the Colonels.

While the Colonels don't have a senior on the roster, Key does have a solid trio in co-captains Ericka Rutzebeck, Amy Brooks and Kristi Hollman.

Last year, Richardson reached the region finals before losing to North Caroline. When North Caroline jumped to Class 2A this year, the Colonels knew their chances of reaching the state tournament improved.

"When North Caroline moved up, we knew we may get here. It's nice to actually see it come true," Grover said.

In past years, Grover said the team has relied on one big hitter, but that's not the case this year. Junior outside hitters Robyn Baumgaertner (125 kills in the regular season) and Katie Poole (127 kills) are joined by junior middle hitter Stephanie Bell (101 kills, team-leading 22 solo blocks) to give junior setter Kari Dulin (280 set assists) plenty of options.

"We try to mix it up and alternate our two outside hitters so one is always in the front row," Grover said. "One thing we've worked on has been blocking and it's improving. If we can block, we'll be competitive. If we don't, it may be over real fast."

The Eagles were expecting to return to states after appearing last year with four sophomore starters.

In Friday's emotional four-game win against Smithsburg, Key got strong efforts from juniors Cindy Sheedy (11 service points, 10 kills), Stephanie Stambaugh (eight kills, 15 blocks) and Erin Ness (11 service points, 19 set assists). It was just the kind of test the Eagles were looking for after having little trouble getting past Carver A & T and Catoctin in the first two rounds of the region playoffs.

"It's a nice swing onto the state tournament," Totten said. "There were a lot of positives. It was a gutsy team effort with everyone pulling their load."

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