Glenelg savors dethroning of Eagles

Program on the rise wins confirmation with ouster of 5-time defending champs


High Schools

November 09, 2001|By Kevin Van Valkenburg | Kevin Van Valkenburg,SUN STAFF

When the last ball fell to the floor, so did the tears. Buckets of them. Everywhere you looked Tuesday night at Centennial High School, there was a Glenelg player, coach, parent or fan crying.

And they couldn't have been happier.

That's what happens in volleyball when you knock off a five-time defending state champ, as Glenelg did to Centennial, 16-14, 17-15, 17-15, in the 2A West regional semifinals. The emotions of an up-and-coming program spilled out in full force.

"It's absolutely huge for us," said second-year Glenelg coach Jennifer Beall. "We showed more heart than we have all season, and everything clicked for us."

To put it in perspective, over the past decade the Eagles have been the New York Yankees of Maryland high school volleyball. Aside from having won the past five 2A state titles, Centennial has won nine of the last 10. The Eagles had not failed to reach the state finals since 1995, when they were upset in the regional finals by eventual 2A champ Mount Hebron.

But Tuesday, behind the play of Melanie Mills, Sarah Tursell, Tara Stradling and several others, Glenelg (12-4) came from behind in all three games, including an 11-3 deficit in the third, to upset Centennial (12-3) on its home court.

"You really have to congratulate Glenelg," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom, who has won six state titles in eight years with the Eagles. "They really controlled the ball against us, which was key. I don't feel we played up to our potential, but a lot of it was because they served well and played great defense."

Said Beall: "We'd been hearing people say for a while, `Nice job beating up on the little guys, too bad you can't do it against the good teams.' So in that respect, it was nice to prove that we could beat the best. Every time we got down in that match, we stuck by each other. We didn't get upset, or fall apart, we just kept playing."

The Gladiators, who have a large contingent of boisterous fans who travel everywhere the team goes, now face Francis Scott Key in the 2A West regional final tonight at 7 p.m.

"Our fans are so great," Beall said. "There is such a bond between the fans and the kids. We know we're going to have to come out and play ball if we want this to continue, but the kids aren't satisfied just yet."

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