Western trips Poly for sixth title in row

Inability to `shut door' gets Engineers swept again


October 31, 2002|By Sam Atkinson | Sam Atkinson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The score and feeling were all too familiar for the Poly Engineers yesterday at home after Western swept them for the Baltimore City volleyball championship.

It was the Doves who swept Poly last season for the championship and it was Western dominating again, 18-16, 15-8, 15-2, to win its sixth straight title. Western has won 10 of the past 11 championships.

"They didn't even see it as a championship game," said Western second-year coach Cassandra Melton. "They viewed it as just another game. They knew what they had to do."

The Engineers (12-4, 10-2) jumped out quickly on the Doves (12-1, 12-0) in the first game, going up 2-0 and then 5-2 before Western battled back. Lindsey Cox served the Doves back into the lead, winning four consecutive points to take a 6-5 lead.

The teams continued to swap lead changes - seven total in the game- before Western's Bethany Sloat (seven kills, four blocks) was serving for the game with a 14-11 lead. The Doves couldn't get the game-clinching point as junior Jerrie Hicks (five kills, one block) hit a shot out of bounds.

Poly tied the game at 14 behind the serving ace of Rachel Richardson and a key spike by Alycia Williams-Chase, forcing the Doves to call a timeout.

After several sideouts, the Engineers regained the serve, the lead and were serving for the game but were denied by Doves senior Janay Wheeler, who made a block on a Poly spike.

Western regained the serve and the momentum and finally put the game away on Hicks' block to win 18-16.

"We were making plays, but we couldn't shut the door on that set," Poly interim coach Josh Headley said. "At that point we had probably played our best game of the entire season. In those last eight volleys, we were hitting the first two hits but we couldn't execute on that third hit."

Poly came out gunning in the second set, scoring the first four points, but like the first set they lost the serve at key times and allowed Western to get back in the game. Poly took its last lead of the game at 7-6, scoring on a Doves mishit. From there, Western scored nine of the final 10 points to win 15-8.

"After we had a couple calls not go our way, we took ourselves out of the game mentally and by doing that we shut ourselves down," Headley said.

Western now had all the momentum and built an 11-0 lead in the third game.

The Engineers were down this many a month ago against the Doves and came back to win 16-14 but not this time.

"It is tough losing to Western," said Headley, whose team lost in four sets to Western during the regular season on Sept. 27. "This is motivation for next year when we return everybody. They are losing some so I guarantee you that Western is in for one heck of a struggle next year against us."

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