The only visible statistical difference between last year and this for Francis Scott Key's volleyball team is the number of games lost while winning its first five matches.
Last year it lost three games in reaching this level; this season it has lost only one and the team is working on a 14-game winning streak.
The Eagles' latest sweep was at home Monday night against Fallston, and second-year coach Alice Smith was able to continue mixing and matching her lineups, getting all 11 players involved.
This playing time, plus a week of practice, should help prepare the Eagles for their first big match of the season, a Monocacy Valley Athletic League meeting with Smithsburg (3-0) on Monday night. The county tournament, which Key has won the last three years, will follow Oct. 2-3 at Liberty.
Jessica Broderick, Stephanie Robertson and Carrie Weant, two-year starters and the only seniors on the squad, are tri-captains who have been stressing the idea of being team-oriented.
"It's true; right now we are more of a team than we were last year," says Weant.
"I think we're more aggressive," added Robertson. "In the past, there were older players to look up to, but this year we are those players. We all have to try and step up. One player can't do it."
Broderick, one of four players at or near 6 feet tall, said, "As a team, I think all our skill levels are up. I think part of this is because we're so tight as a team, we're all trying to make each other better."
Smith sees the difference from a year ago.
"This is just a different team. We have more height, and with five returning starters, there is more experience," she said.
In the process, it is enabling her to do more things.
"Last year, there was some question of what to expect. We were just trying to get the ball over the net. Now, the passing is better and the hitters are finding open spots."
Against Fallston, Robertson had 19 service points; Kim Sheedy, an improving 6-foot junior, had a solid effort, as did sophomore setter Carrie Ness. The latter two came off the bench, as Smith started her seniors, plus junior hitters Casey Henry and Jennifer Sawyer, and sophomore defensive specialist April Caprarola.
Of the whole team, Smith says, "They are relaxed and confident. They walk on the court knowing what they're going to do."
The District V golf tournament, encompassing teams from Anne Arundel, Carroll, Harford, and Howard counties, will be held Monday at the Timbers of Troy in Elkridge. Brett Whitson, a Westminster junior, is the defending boys' champion.
No. 4 North Carroll (4-0, with a 15-3 goal-differential) opens its Central Maryland Conference field hockey schedule today at home against Frederick.
North Carroll's 11th-ranked volleyball team (4-0) will be at home tomorrow against Westminster for the first major intracounty test.
Westminster's football game at Thomas Johnson has been shifted to tomorrow night (7: 30). Originally scheduled for Friday, it was moved because of the annual Frederick Fair.
The top Friday football game sends 3-0 South Carroll, off to its best start since 1988, to 2-1 Linganore (7 p.m.). Two teams will be at home -- North Carroll (2-1) vs. Frederick (0-3), and Liberty (0-3) vs. Urbana (3-0). Running back Calvin Stacey has rushed for 377 yards and caught three passes for 79 yards for Liberty.
Pub Date: 9/22/98