Centennial, Glenelg striving to continue winning at state level Eagles playing at peak

Gladiators want to improve

November 14, 1997|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Howard County has produced two state championship volleyball teams in the same season four times in the last six years.

By late tomorrow afternoon, it very well could be five out of seven.

Top-ranked Centennial and third-ranked Glenelg won state titles 1995 and have very good shots of repeating that success tomorrow in championship matches at Catonsville Community College. The Eagles (19-0) will play North Hagerstown (17-2) for the Class 2A crown at noon, followed at 2: 30 p.m. by the Gladiators (13-5) against Mount Savage (19-0) in Class 1A.

Here is a look at the championship matches:

Centennial-N. Hagerstown

The Eagles set a state tournament record in Wednesday's semifinal match when they limited Loch Raven to six points in a 15-0, 15-2, 15-4 victory. The previous record was set by Centennial when it held South Carroll to nine points in the 1993 title match.

"They're playing their best," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom. "Our free-ball plays are coming together. Our defense is coming together. Our serving is there. Our serve receive is there. You couldn't ask a team to peak at a better time than now, and they are."

North Hagerstown advanced to the final with a 15-0, 15-6, 15-9 win over South River. Kristin Sherwood, a 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter, had six kills in the first game and finished with 17. She averages six kills and three blocks a game.

"We're going to have to watch her," Bossom said. "She's going to limit some of the things we like to do, but we're going to runs sets away from her. And if she's guessing, it makes us stronger. She can't commit to stopping one person."

Sherwood, after watching Centennial take nine minutes beat Loch Riven in the first game, said: "They have some good hitters. It will mainly depend on our defense. If we get our defense together, I think we'll have a chance. It should be a good match."

North Hagerstown coach Tracy McKinsey, whose team has won 12 straight, said: "The key to our game is passing. When our passing is on, everything goes."

Centennial, which has won state titles in 1989, 1991, 1992, 1992, 1994 and 1996, has lost only three games this season. The last time the Eagles lost a match was in the 1995 regional final against Mount Hebron.

Briana Zolak and Robyn West lead the Eagles in kills, averaging three and two per game, respectively. Lisa Chapman has done a fine job setting.

But the Eagles' success also is due to its many fine role players, including Melissa Bossle, one of seven seniors on the team.

"Melissa has changed positions twice and never complained," Bossom said. "She was playing the front row, and now she's playing right-back defense and doing very well. She's also my second-best server."

Glenelg vs. Mount Savage

Neither Glenelg nor Mount Savage was pleased with its semifinal performance.

"It wasn't pretty, but we're not going to give it back," said Mount Savage coach Joanne Nickel after her team beat Rising Sun, 15-10, 15-11, 15-11.

Nickel has coached 26 years at the Allegany County school, which is the state's third smallest -- it has kindergarten through 12th grade -- and has only 38 seniors. But the Indians have reached the state tournament 11 times and have won three state titles (1979, 1982, 1983).

Mount Savage's team includes eight seniors, including leading hitters Heather Abucevicz, Amy Stafford and April Lashley.

Glenelg, which won state titles in 1993 and 1995, defeated Sparrows Point in its semifinal, 11-15, 15-3, 15-2, 15-3. Despite their superiority in the last three games, the Gladiators did not look sharp.

"I think we learned a lesson," said Glenelg senior Vicki Bennett. "We weren't psyched up enough for a state game. There wasn't enough energy. Even though we won, we were disappointed."

Glenelg played down to Sparrows Point's level at times, creating a lot inconsistent play. Mount Savage should offer Glenelg a tougher test, something that Gladiators coach Marlene Dugan welcomes. But Dugan, who coached both of Glenelg's title teams, doesn't want what happened Tuesday to recur.

"We are going to do a lot of mental preparation, because that's going to be the key," said Dugan. "We need to be mentally prepared to play our game, regardless of the situation, the other team we're playing and the ability of that team."

Said Bennett: "We're going to have a breakfast at my house [Saturday morning] and relax and get focused. I think we came out nervous and tentative on Tuesday, and hopefully we can kick that out the door and play really well.

"We just have to come out with total intensity, total power and dominate the match from the very beginning. I think we can do that."

Glenelg is led by hitters Kim Laws, Pam Goldberg and Jamie Bullock. Setter Chrissy Mills has played well, as have role players Bennett and Nicole Barnoski. Laurie Driver has done a nice job replacing injured middle hitter Arney Walker.

Pub Date: 11/14/97

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