Key makes point with accuracy

On mark with their serve, Eagles defeat S. Carroll in a three-game sweep

High Schools

October 10, 2003|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Francis Scott Key volleyball team this season has become all too familiar with the school's track. Each match the Eagles fall below 90 percent accuracy on their serve, coach Alice Rau makes them run the following day in practice - a half-mile warm-up followed by a series of grueling sprints.

In a key conference match last night at South Carroll, Key's players showed they've gotten the message.

Led by seniors Erin Jenkins (15 service points) and Jen Stambaugh (13), the Eagles served at a 95 percent clip with 12 aces in a 25-13, 25-13, 28-26 victory that gave them sole possession of first place in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League's Piedmont Conference.

"We've really realized how important serving is," Rau said. "It can mean a match."

Earlier this season against defending county champion Liberty, the Eagles took an 18-13 lead in the pivotal third game before hitting three straight serves into the net. Key went on to lose the game as well as the match.

Lesson learned, the Eagles (8-2 overall, 2-0 conference) looked like a different team last night against another of the county's top contenders.

Jenkins got her team off quickly in the opening game, serving Key to 10 straight points as it took a 14-2 lead. Four of her first five serves in that stretch were aces.

"You just feel it," Jenkins said. "Once you start getting those aces, you just have to keep that energy going."

Then in the second game, it was Stambaugh's turn, serving up three aces of her own in a nine-point rally.

South Carroll (5-3, 1-1), meanwhile struggled with its serving all night, finishing the match at an uncharacteristically low 71 percent with 14 service errors.

Despite giving up a pair of points for illegal substitutions in the third game, Francis Scott Key rallied from a 23-21 deficit to pull out the win. Though the Eagles failed to cash in on three straight match points, South Carroll couldn't capitalize.

Stambaugh and Jenkins led an efficient attack for the Eagles, piling up nine and eight kills, respectively, in a match that took just 1 hour, 5 minutes. Setter Nicole Moser had 20 assists.

"If we could just have the consistency with the passing like we did tonight and the setting like we did tonight, things would be unstoppable," Rau said.

The serving wasn't bad, either.

Rau said that her team only had eclipsed the 90 percent mark once or twice this season, meaning her players have become quite accustomed to after-school wind sprints.

"If we don't get 90 percent, we're out on the track running, so we really push for it," Jenkins said.

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