Seasoned Eagles appear poised to soar F.S. Key develop cohesive unit of vets, newcomers

November 03, 1998|By John Stewart | John Stewart,SUN STAFF

The players are nearly the same, but the Francis Scott Key team that completed its regular season 11-3 with a sweep of visiting Walkersville (3-11) last night bore little relation to the team that put up a 10-7 record a year ago.

This year's team swept nine foes and lost one game in each of its other two victories, and lost matches only to perennial Washington County powers Smithsburg and Williamsport (both 3-0), and at North Hagerstown, 3-2.

Key drew a first-round bye in the Class 2A West regional, and will play the winner of Thursday's Walkersville-Rockville winner next Monday in the quarterfinals.

Although Key started a veteran lineup last night, the two teams played the first game as though their records were reversed. Key, down 12-13, got two aces and a third successive service point from senior setter Carrie Weant to pull out a 15-13 decision.

The last two games were much more predictable, 15-5, 15-6.

Prior to the match, seniors Weant, Stephanie Robertson and Jessica Broderick were honored, and afterward it was Robertson who offered, "I think we were still caught up in Senior Night," as an explanation for the team taking a while to get in gear.

Eight of the 11 players on the squad were letter-winners a year ago, and four of them were starters. Junior Diene Bowers, a defender, and 6-foot sophomore hitters Samantha Stambaugh and Adria Stonesifer are the newcomers.

Last year, the Eagles had more new players working into the rotation and the necessary cohesiveness never really developed. This time, it is a veteran team, and playing like it.

"Besides, we've had time to know each other better, and we have come together to play as a team," said Robertson, in her third varsity season after having been brought up from the JV during her sophomore year.

Juniors Kim Sheedy and Jen Sawyer, on JV as freshmen and varsity as sophomores, agreed. "The fact we're together is one of the reasons for our improvement," said the 5-foot-7 Sawyer, an outside hitter with good leaping ability.

Sheedy sees her ability to put the ball away when she has the chance and to find open spots as her areas of improvement this fall, while Robertson points to her defense as having improved.

It was Robertson who finally got her side rolling in the second game last night with seven successive service points after it had fallen behind, 0-4.

For the match, Weant had 12 service points and 17 assists; Robertson, 10 service points; Sawyer, seven kills, and Stonesifer, six kills.

Stonesifer's hits were particularly impressive as she could either put the ball away with a slam, or use her height and long arms to put the ball on a spot. To her credit, she can also jump, rather than standing flatfooted.

"Stephanie [Robertson] is a very good defensive player, because she works at it," said coach Alice Smith. For Sawyer, her defensive weakness was one of the things she had to work on, and she is another who has worked at it.

Stonesifer, who saw a lot of action, had an excellent match. Smith mixes and matches her player combinations, and of Stonesifer, she said, "She has found out out she needs to be ready to go in at any time, and when she goes, she has to play well right away. Improvement here has made her a better player."

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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