Glenelg nets county honors with 2nd win over Centennial

Morgan leads 14-0 Glads to 3-game sweep of Eagles

Howard County volleyball

High Schools

October 30, 2003|By Jeff Seidel | Jeff Seidel,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Glenelg has used dominant play at the net to become one of the state's top volleyball teams over the past two years. But the host Gladiators took their net play to another level and delighted a packed house by repeating as Howard County champion.

Michelle Morgan helped top-ranked Glenelg control play on both sides of the net throughout as the Gladiators wore down No. 4 Centennial en route to a three-game sweep (25-20, 25-23, 25-12) of the Howard County title match.

Glenelg (14-0) has won 34 straight matches, including last year's Howard County and Class 2A state titles. The Gladiators begin the Class 2A South region playoffs on Monday. Top-seeded Glenelg, with a first-round bye, will face either Atholton or Prince George's County's Central.

This was Glenelg's second victory of the season over stubborn Centennial (13-2). The Eagles, who earned the top seed in the Class 3A East region and will play Wilde Lake or Bladensburg Monday, turned in a similar effort earlier this fall before losing to Glenelg in four games during a regular-season match.

Centennial came out tough again in this match, repeatedly trying to get the ball to the net quickly and throw Glenelg's blocking defense out of sync.

Glenelg had trouble adjusting at first but put it all together midway through the second game, scoring 41 of the match's final 60 points.

"Our defense picked up huge in the second and third games," Glenelg coach Jennifer Beall said. "I'm really, really happy with everything [we did] at the net."

Although several Gladiators made tough plays at the net, Morgan truly led the way. The 5-foot-10 senior registered a team-high 11 kills, plus five blocks. She added 10 digs to complete a huge effort.

Tara Stradling (25 assists) and others repeatedly kept Morgan busy at the net, and Centennial couldn't stop her.

"We kept feeding her and feeding her and feeding her," Beall said. "She was incredible."

The Gladiators out-fought Centennial for the 25-20 first-game victory. But they then fell behind 16-9 midway through the second game before Beall called timeout.

Morgan and Rebecca Tursell (nine kills) made a number of net plays while Glenelg played stellar defense, outlasting Centennial on several long points in the second game.

The Eagles rallied for a 23-22 lead before Stephanie Sims (14 digs) sparked the final three-point rally. Stradling set up the winning play, faking out several Centennial defenders with a back-set and passing to Sims, alone at the net, for a perfect kill just inside the back line.

Centennial faded after that. The Eagles finished with 10 serving errors and, despite good performances from Erika Swan (seven kills) and Jennifer Feldmann (22 assists), Glenelg left with the county title.

"They were making [plays],"Centennial coach Michael Bossom said. "On the flip side, we didn't make a couple of plays we should have made. Hopefully, we'll get mentally stronger, because that's what I feel we need."

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