Not at best, Dulaney still takes crown Lions sweep Hereford despite many mistakes

November 05, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Third-ranked Dulaney didn't bring its "A" game into last night's Baltimore County championship. Against feisty but overmatched Hereford, however, the Lions' "B" game was sufficient to do the job.

Host Dulaney fought through numerous mental and physical mistakes, including unusually sloppy passing, to knock off the upset-minded Bulls, 15-8, 15-11, 15-7, and claim their second straight county crown.

For coach Ian Blanchard, however, the victory was hollow.

"That was the sloppiest we've played all season," Blanchard said. "We had a lot of problems receiving serve tonight. The passing was poor, and the setting was off. We didn't show what we're really capable of."

The Lions (15-0) spotted Hereford a 7-3 lead in the opening game as the Bulls (14-2), powered by the hitting of Tara Clarke, Stacey Ensor and Erin McElvaney, kept Dulaney off balance over the first few minutes.

After consecutive aces by Rachael Wilke and a kill by McElvaney, Dulaney found itself in a place it hasn't been many times this season -- in a hole.

"We have a tendency to do that a lot," Dulaney's Melaney Heagy said of the slow start. "It just takes us a little while to get back into it. Once we do, I think we do pretty good."

It didn't take long for the Lions to turn the tide. Led by Heagy (10 kills, two aces) and Teresa Graham (six, two), Dulaney began to overpower the Bulls, reeling off 12 of the next 13 points to take 1-0 lead in games.

That momentum carried through the next two games, as well, as the Lions built leads of 11-4 and 12-4 before winning each, closing out the match on a service winner by Jill Schubert. Still, the match proved more difficult than any on Dulaney's bench hoped.

"We played to the top of our ability," Hereford coach Pat Pilson said. "They play much tougher competition than us throughout the season. I'm proud of what we did tonight."

Said Blanchard: "Hereford played some scrappy-as-I-don't-know-what defense. They certainly played better defense than us."

Blanchard was adamant that his team will have to improve its level of play -- in particular the passing -- if it is to make a run in the Class 4A state playoffs, which begin at 5 p.m. Monday, when the Lions play host to Walbrook. Hereford will play host to Pikesville, also on Monday, in Class 1A.

"Our goal is to get to the states and win the states, but we're going to take things one step at a time," Blanchard said. "If we keep playing like we did tonight, we're going to have a hard time making it that far."

Pub Date: 11/05/98

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