Composure keys Key's sweep into title game Ousts Colonel Richardson with just enough power

November 13, 1996|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Francis Scott Key often depends on its raw power at the net to rack up victories.

But last night, the Eagles had to reach down for something more. Sixth-ranked Key got some offensive power, but relied more on a little tough defense and a lot of composure to defeat Colonel Richardson, 15-6, 15-11, 15-5, in a Class 1A state semifinal at Essex Community College.

Key (21-1) advanced to the state championship match at 2: 30 p.m. Saturday against Williamsport at Catonsville Community College.

The Eagles lost to Williamsport in last year's state championship game.

Last night, the Eagles often struggled. They had a hard time getting the ball to the net and working their offense. Colonel Richardson (15-4) jumped to leads in the first two games, but Key rebounded well.

The Colonels scored four of the first five points in Game 1. They also took a 6-3 lead in game two, but the Eagles rallied, led by Stephanie Stambaugh, Cindy Sheedy and Erin Ness.

"I was just really pleased with the way my girls kept their composure," said Francis Scott Key coach Leo Totten. "[They] just gradually worked their way back into it."

The Key offense worked in spurts, but that was enough to knock out Richardson. The Eagles scored the final 11 points of Game 1 and the last six in Game 2. Key then scored the first 10 points of Game 3 to take command.

When the Eagles did get the ball to the net, their power often overwhelmed Colonel Richardson. They forced several errors that became important parts of the two Key streaks.

"We just weren't passing well," said Stambaugh. "We had little spurts of energy. When we did, that's when we finally got going."

Ness helped the offense get going time and again. She finished with 23 assists, often perfectly setting for Stambaugh (12 kills) and Sheedy (14 kills).

Defense proved to be a big plus for the Eagles. Stambaugh (five blocks) and Sheedy (three blocks) often ruled the net, and Totten said he liked the blocking from Heather Abel and Ness.

In addition, Ness and Ayrika Frock made several big saves when the first two games were close. Both made leaping and diving saves of balls going out of bounds or nearly into the stands -- which stopped the Colonels from expanding their leads.

Totten liked how his team stood up to pressure in this college arena. The Eagles defeated the Colonels in last year's semifinal, but it was at Rising Sun High School, and Totten thought his team may have been a bit overwhelmed in the title match at Catonsville Community College.

The Colonels also never really got on their game. Katie Poole played well, but the flashes of Key's power proved decisive.

"Our offense never got going, and our blocking was atrocious," said Colonel Richardson coach Jay Covey. "We never clicked as a team."

Pub Date: 11/13/96

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