Area's top two facing D.C.-area, W. Md. foes for state titles today Severna Park, Centennial can win 6th, 8th crowns

November 21, 1998|By Pat O'Malley and Stan Rappaport | Pat O'Malley and Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Two of the metro area's premier volleyball programs will be on center stage today at Catonsville Community College.

At noon, No. 2-ranked Centennial (16-3) will take a shot at winning its eighth title -- a Maryland record -- against North Hagerstown (17-2) in the Class 2A championship match.

Then, at 5 p.m., top-ranked Severna Park (18-1) will go after its sixth state title and first since 1993 in the Class 4A final against Montgomery County power Walt Whitman (19-0).

Centennial is one of four schools -- the others being Catonsville, Williamsport and Wootton -- that have seven state championships. Centennial won Class 3A titles in 1989, 1991-94 and 1996, as well as the Class 2A championship last year.

The Eagles' match against North Hagerstown is a repeat of last fall's final, which they won, 15-0, 15-7, 15-9, to complete a 20-0 season. But North Hagerstown coach Tracy McKinsey said her team, which has 10 players from last year's squad, will be more prepared this time.

"We don't have a big gun, but all around, we're a better team," said McKinsey, whose team won a five-game, semifinal thriller over Cecil County's North East.

"We're mixing up our offense more, and we have a better defense. We know Centennial has some losses this year. We know they're not the powerhouse they have been. We're ready."

North Hagerstown's leading hitter, Erica Dattilio, feels the same way.

"We're a stronger and more confident team," said Dattilio. "We're prepared to play them."

Centennial setter Lisa Chapman will be playing in her third state final. One of only three seniors, she knows the younger players look to her for leadership.

"It's easier for me, because I've been here," Chapman said. "I just go out and play. It's just another match."

But that doesn't mean Chapman isn't excited.

"I knew the team was capable [of reaching the state final]," Chapman said. "We just had to prove it to everyone else."

No. 1 Severna Park eliminated Bowie (19-4) of Prince George's County by scores of 15-3, 15-9 and 16-14 in Tuesday's Class 4A semifinal at Essex Community College, and Whitman humbled No. 3 Dulaney (17-1) in three straight, 15-4, 15-1 and 15-3.

"No question, they're a very strong team and have a lot of size," said Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar about Whitman, which has four players who are 6 feet tall; Severna Park has none and just three at 5-10.

"We will have to figure out a way to combat their size," said Dunbar, who led the Falcons to three consecutive state titles from 1991 through 1993 and is 237-21 in his 12-year tenure. "Obviously, we will have to be quicker, play quick and serve well. This team is a little deeper than our past three or four teams."

Senior setter Lauren Boyd, who had 35 assists and a state-record 25-for-25 serving with two aces Tuesday, gives Severna Park a "state-caliber setter," in Dunbar's words.

"Every year we've gotten to the states, we've had an absolutely great setter," he continued. "If you don't have a setter who can put the ball in the hitters' hands, it doesn't matter how good your hitters are. Lauren can turn a lot of bad passes into great plays."

Five other seniors -- Traci Sariscak, Sarah Grimm, Missy Collison, Tracy Johnston and Gretchen Hause -- have played key roles for the Falcons, along with juniors Natalie Hicks, Lauren Bessire and Megan Medford.

"We have a lot of players who can do a lot of things," said Dunbar. "If somebody goes flat, somebody else steps up on this team. This is not for me. It's more important to me to see these girls win a state championship."

Pub Date: 11/21/98

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