Towson building on a 15-1 volleyball roll

State notebook

LaBlanc becomes leader in career assists for Tigers


October 04, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Everything has fallen into near-perfect place for Towson University's volleyball team this season.

After enjoying a local sweep with wins over Morgan State, Loyola and UMBC last week and then taking three straight games against Drexel in their America East opener on Tuesday, the Tigers (15-1) already have matched their win total of last season, when they were 15-18 overall, though 11-5 in the conference.

Coach Chris Riley, in his second year, saw talent in the seven returning players and potential in his seven newcomers, but this much success this soon?

"No," he said. "We knew we had a good team, but we had to put together the freshman class with the veteran players, and we didn't know how it would meld together. It's been a unique experience, and finding the right mix can be challenging at times. But they're all such good players, it's worked out pretty well."

Having the program's all-time leader in assists, senior setter Andrea LaBlanc, was a good starting point. The four-year starter surpassed 1994 grad Connie Blades last week against Morgan State and is at 3,755 and counting.

"She's been someone who has taken control from her first day here four years ago," Riley said. "She runs the floor for us like a quarterback, and she mixes it up well with no one dominant player up front."

The Tigers, who will play host to Stony Brook at 1 p.m. Saturday, have relied on balance and consistency, staying away from errors to make opposing teams earn their points. Freshman Sarah Miller leads the team with 206 kills for a 3.38 per-game average; senior Melanie Madden has 165, and junior Jordann Tomasek has added 134. Another freshman, Liz Goubeaux, leads the America East Conference with 60 blocks.

After finishing in fourth place in the conference last season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1996, the Tigers are looking for more this year.

With Hofstra, winner of four of the past five conference crowns, moving on to the Colonial Athletic Association this season, Northeastern and New Hampshire are the Tigers' biggest challenges. Towson also will be competing in the CAA starting next year.

Conway dominant at Bowie

All over the field in leading Bowie State to a 14-8 upset win at Virginia Union on Saturday, freshman linebacker Atcheson Conway came off it understated: "The college game is a lot faster than high school, and it took some time to get used to it, but I guess I've adjusted quickly," he said.

Very quickly.

The Paint Branch alumnus led the team with 10 tackles, forced a fumble that he returned 36 yards, and broke up three passes. His second interception of the day with 1:18 left secured the win. Last year, Virginia Union easily beat Bowie, 48-14, on its way to the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's East Division championship.

For the effort, Conway earned CIAA Rookie of the Week honors for the second time this season. He leads the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-2 conference) with 46 tackles and three interceptions.

Terror DT returns

Western Maryland defensive tackle Joe Rydzewski, an Army Reserve military policeman, reported for service Monday but was declared medically undeployable because of a broken hand suffered in a 35-9 win over Ursinus on Sept. 22.

The 23-year-old junior, who served in the Army for two years in Alabama, Wisconsin and New Jersey, returned to college yesterday. A consistent contributor in a reserve role for the Green Terror, Rydzewski has continued to play with the injury and has 10 tackles and one sack this season.

Et cetera

UMBC's Andy Wells found a special way to celebrate his 22nd birthday Sunday. The senior sweeper headed home the game-winning goal in overtime, lifting the Retrievers to a 2-1 soccer win over Northeast Conference foe Quinnipiac. The three-time All-NEC first-teamer has 14 career goals.

College of Notre Dame freshman Gina Ruocco (Loch Raven) tied a school mark with five assists in a 16-0 soccer win over Wilson College (Pa.) last month.

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