Spalding stays calm, then collects sweep of Mercy No. 13 Cavaliers can share regular-season title by beating St. Mary's Monday @

October 24, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

When asked about her team's mid-season loss to Mercy, Spalding coach Linda Taylor quickly attributed a lack of composure to the setback.

"We got rattled," she said.

In yesterday's rematch in Severn, it was the No. 13 Cavaliers' turn to do the rattling. They jumped out fast and stayed on course to claim a three-game sweep over the visiting Magic -- 15-1, 15-11, 15-11.

"I was a little concerned of being too pumped up at the start, but we stayed composed," said Taylor. "We always talk about playing the game at one level throughout. They played at a high level and stayed that way."

The win gives the Cavaliers (13-2 overall, 11-2 in the Catholic League) an opportunity to share the regular-season crown with Mercy (14-3, 12-2), provided they beat St. Mary's on Monday.

If the Cavaliers can maintain the level of intensity they had yesterday, they stand a good chance.

Scrappy defense, good first passes and steady setting from Lauren Schaech enabled the Cavaliers to utilize their strong hitters. Courtney Dixon and Jennifer Datz both finished with eight kills while Melissa Mahoney made instant contributions every time she came off the bench.

The Cavaliers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first game and were then able to score big points late in the second and third games to pull away from No. 15 Mercy.

"It was awesome," said Dixon. "We were just focused, came out and played our hardest and stayed on one level. We were pumped up and stayed that way the whole game."

Mercy tried to turn things around in the second game, staying even at 8 before two cross-court kills from Dixon and some strong serving from Bridget Laporte -- 10-for-10 in the match -- gave the Cavaliers a 14-9 lead.

hTC "They came out more fired up than us and this is a tough gym to play in with all the noise," said coach Louie Sowers.

"We were a little tentative and never seemed to find our game. They played good defense and dug a lot of balls. It seemed they brought up everything we hit. We made a lot of mistakes and I know we can play better."

In the third game, Spalding built an 11-6 lead before the Magic rallied to tie with some strong net play from Kelli McKee. Dixon had the final say, however, closing out the match with a kill from the left side.

"We kept communication and passing well. When we do that, we can utilize our strong hitters," said Taylor.

McKee finished the match with six kills and six blocks to lead the Magic. Tara Singleton had seven digs, four blocks and was a perfect 6-for-6 on serves. Setter Michelle Russell also went 9-for-9 on serves.

Pub Date: 10/24/98

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