In one fell swoop, doubts spiked away

Towson: A strong showing in a weekend tournament has restored confidence to the Generals volleyball team.

High School

October 10, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

Returning practically intact from last season, Towson's volleyball team seemed to lack just one thing -- the confidence to beat the state's top teams.

That changed over the weekend.

At the Bulldog Classic on the Eastern Shore on Saturday, the No. 3 Generals defeated two defending state champions and pushed Calvert, which appears to be the best team in the state right now, to the limit before falling, 11-15, 15-13, 17-15, in the best-of-three title match.

"To play with all these really good teams gives you the confidence that you're a really good team," said Generals junior Stephanie Kines. "There were a lot of doubts, even in players on our own team, that we were as strong as we were made out to be, but after this weekend, we proved to everyone that we have come so far and can accomplish anything we set out to do."

The Generals were pretty good last season, reaching the Baltimore County championship and the state Class 2A semifinals. They lost both times to eventual state champs -- Dulaney in the county final and Centennial, 15-10, 15-9, 15-11, in the 2A semis.

They opened this season with a tough 7-15, 16-14, 15-9, 17-15 loss to current No. 1 Severna Park, but Towson coach Jayne Lacy said that setback did not hurt.

"Even though that was a loss, it had a positive effect on my team, because the kids played very well," Lacy said. "They were right there with Severna Park and the match could have gone either way."

The experience against the challenging field at the Bulldog tournament built on the Generals' growing expectations that they could beat -- and consequently rank among -- the state's elite teams.

Towson played 14 games in the tournament and lost only the two to Calvert.

In pool play, they swept three games each from defending Class 3A champ Northern of Calvert County, Westlake and tournament host North Caroline.

In the semifinal best-of-three match, the Generals swept, 15-3, 15-2, against ailing No. 4 Centennial, which has struggled since losing starting setter Molly Reitz with a separated shoulder two weeks ago.

All-Metro second-teamer Kines completed the tournament with 48 kills. Emily Berman had 43, Ashley Windisch, 28 and Katie Gwiazdowski, 27. Clarke contributed 108 assists and defensive specialist Stephanie Heard made 32 digs.

Since the daylong event, Lacy also has seen a new unity in her team, which features a host of club players, although Kines, Windisch and Clarke are the only ones to play on the same club team.

"This weekend was big for them to see how well they could play together," Lacy said. "It was a real bonding experience on and off the court. That's really going to help us the last half of the season."

The Generals, who are 7-1 in best-of-five matches, are unbeaten in Baltimore County's Division I. As the Oct. 31 county title match approaches, Towson appears to be on a collision course with Division II leader Dulaney, the four-time defending champ and the area's No. 2-ranked team.

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