Key locks down Fallston with a sweeping victory

No. 11 Eagles get hand from many, 15-4, 15-5, 15-10


October 24, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Its cast may have changed, but the Francis Scott Key volleyball team continues to crank out the hits.

Last night, it was those big hits that helped the host No. 11 Eagles dominate No. 13 Fallston in a 15-4, 15-5, 15-10 nonconference victory.

Led by outside hitter Amber Luhn (11 kills), middle hitters Sarah Stambaugh (nine) and Jen Stambaugh (eight), setter Gail Baumgardner (32 assists) and outside hitter Stacey Stonesifer (16 service points), Key controlled the net offensively and defensively.

It provided a welcomed emotional boost for a team that has spent the majority of this season getting used to an entirely new lineup from the one that led Key to the Class 2A state final a year ago.

"It's a big confidence boost, really," Luhn said.

The Eagles lost four first-team All-County players to graduation, including setter Carrie Ness, The Sun's Carroll County Player of the Year. All told, they've had to replace five of six starters.

In their stead, however, a group of former reserves and JV standouts have barely missed a beat, losing only to Monocacy Valley Athletic League powers Smithsburg and Williamsport.

"They've really work hard in practice to improve their errors, and they do a nice job defensively," said coach Alice Rau, whose team improved to 11-2 overall and in the MVAL. " ... We have our days, we have our games. I think the consistency is what affects us."

That was never more evident than last night.

After outscoring the formidable Cougars 30-9 in the first two games, the Eagles missed their first three serves of the third game and soon trailed 6-2. Just as quickly as they seemed to lose their focus, however, they regained it, scoring nine of the final 10 points to claim victory.

As has been the case all season, however, serving continued to plague Key. The Eagles served a respectable 80 percent, but failed to achieve Rau's goal of 90 percent - a figure they've achieved routinely in recent years, but have hit three times in 13 matches this season.

Still, for a team that had to adjust to so many new faces, the end result looks much the same.

"It was tough for us to get used to missing [hitters] Samantha [Stambaugh] and Adria [Stonesifer] at the beginning of the season, and just getting used to the new starting lineup," said Sarah Stambaugh, who missed most of last season with a sprained ankle. "Now, though, we feel like we're playing pretty well."

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