After losing focus, things clear up for Glenelg in win

Centennial hangs in early, but Gladiators rebound


High Schools

October 01, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Glenelg boasts one of the area's top multi-powered offenses. But the Gladiators sometimes lose focus and forget the importance of passing.

That happened for awhile during the first part of yesterday's volleyball match at No. 4 Centennial. Top-ranked Glenelg then settled down and extended its winning streak to 26 matches with a 25-21, 20-25, 25-22, 25-10 victory over the Eagles.

Glenelg (6-0 overall, 6-0 Howard County) fields several players who can cause damage at the net along with setter Tara Stradling, last year's All-Metro Player of the Year.

Michelle Morgan and Rebecca Tursell are powerful up front and Stradling repeatedly finds someone for a good shot.

But the Gladiators slid away from that for a time in the first part of this match. They weren't passing and making their offense run on each point and let Centennial (6-1, 6-1) stay close in the first game and win the second.

"[Passing] is totally the key," Glenelg coach Jen Beall said. "We've got so much offensively ... and passing takes us in or out of our game." Stradling, who finished with 33 assists, said the team focused on ensuring the offense would again run correctly when the third game started.

The Gladiators got right back to the strong passing and solid defense they needed. Tursell (19 kills, 11 digs) and Morgan (13 kills, 12 digs) sparked Glenelg at the net and led a defense that eventually wore down Centennial.

Stradling (13 digs) and Kelly Hollrah (11 digs, six kills) also made numerous tough plays on defense as Glenelg slowed Centennial's power at the net.

Erika Swan (eight kills) and Margot Phelan (seven kills) both played well, but the Gladiators eventually stopped them.

"We wanted this so badly," Morgan said. "It's all about us coming together, talking on the court ... and we had to focus." Glenelg used its solid play at the net to win the first game, giving the Eagles their first game loss this year, before Centennial bounced back to take the second game.

But that's when the Gladiators took over. The third game was tied at 13 before Glenelg slowly pulled away. Tursell made a variety of clutch plays at the net - blocks, kills and dinks - to help the Gladiators win the game and take a 2-1 lead.

The Eagles then faded in the fourth game. They made several mistakes that were often forced by timely Glenelg hitting as the Gladiators built an 18-6 lead, then cruised.

"We've got to be faster than them moving the ball," Centennial coach Michael Bossom said. "We did not pass the ball or serve-receive as well as we normally do."

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