Towson's picture perfect year ends with 1st state championship

Generals' strong middle is too much for Glenelg

Class 2A volleyball

November 18, 2001|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

For Towson's No. 2 volleyball team, winning a state championship meant a little piece of immortality.

By sweeping No. 5 Glenelg, 15-8, 15-8, 17-15, in the Class 2A final for their first state volleyball title yesterday at CCBC-Catonsville, the Generals (19-1) earned a spot on Towson's athletic wall of fame - a corridor sporting pictures of every Generals state championship team.

"After every game, we'd say `picture on the wall.' That was definitely a key in our motivation," Stephanie Kines said. "It's awesome. It's the biggest high just to know this is what we've worked for the whole season."

The Generals were knocked out last year's state semifinals when they collapsed against eventual champion Centennial, but this fall, they showed more confidence, more cohesiveness and a more dominating middle presence.

Middle hitters Kines, a 5-foot-11 junior, and Emily Berman, a 6-1 junior, gave the Gladiators (16-4) fits yesterday by combining for 21 kills and eight blocks.

Gladiators coach Jennifer Beall said her players had not seen such strong middles all season.

"We tried to adjust our blocks," Beall said. "but we weren't closing it and we usually had one up on her. Their setter saw that we were tucking our block in, which was our goal to try to force her to use the outside, but that kind of worked against us because we didn't get back out for the block on the outside."

Once Towson setter Michelle Clarke (31 assists) established the middle, she could move to the outside where Ashley Windisch had a game-high 12 kills and Katie Gwiazdowski added four.

"Michelle mixed it up a lot more this match," Windisch said, "going outside and weak side, and I think that threw them off a lot."

The Generals, who won their first state title in the 27-year history of the state volleyball tournament, ended a 13-year run in which at least one Howard County team had won a state championship.

The Gladiators were Howard's only hope this year, having upset Centennial in the regional semifinals, but they could not hold off the Generals despite a third-game rally.

Towson didn't have much trouble taking the first two games, but the Gladiators took advantage of the Generals' slow start in the third, pulling ahead by 6-2 as Towson struggled with its passing.

Michelle Morgan had three of her team-high eight kills in a 6-2 run that extended the Gladiators' lead to 12-7, but Kines and Windisch helped turn the game around as they combined for three kills and two point blocks to pull even at 12-12.

The teams traded points to 15-15 before Glenelg let Stephanie Heard's long, hard serve fall in a deep corner for an ace. On the next rotation, Berman finished off the match with a kill.

Still, the Gladiators, who won the last of their two state titles in 1995, seemed pleased to take home the runner-up trophy.

"We're not disappointed," said junior Sarah Tursell, one of five players in the starting lineup who will return next season. "Things didn't seem to be going that well for us going into the playoffs, but then we beat Centennial, then Francis Scott Key, then Stephen Decatur. So, I'm looking forward to what this team's going to do next year."

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