No. 15 Poly ends Western's reign, captures crown

Doves' bid for 8th title in row comes up short

Baltimore City volleyball

High Schools

October 31, 2003|By Mike Frainie | Mike Frainie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Trailing one game to none in the Baltimore City volleyball championship at Western yesterday, Poly coach Tiffany Byrd had a message for her players, all except one of whom are seniors.

"I told them that if they believe in me, then I believe in them," said Byrd. "I told them we can do this."

Byrd's words seemed to spark the No. 15 Engineers (13-1), who rallied to win the next three games and defeat the Doves, 21-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-12.

The victory broke a string of seven consecutive city titles for Western and set off a boisterous celebration by the Poly fans. It also ended a streak of at least five years that Poly has been on the losing end in the final.

"Our goal was to play our game no matter what, and we came out and did that," said Poly senior Erica Turnbull. "I can't believe it. We've worked so hard for this. We knew this was our last chance."

The Engineers took an early lead in the second game, but Western battled back to take a 22-20 advantage. Poly scored the last five points in the game off Deborah Alston's serve to even the match.

The Doves (11-4) were their own worst enemies in the third game, failing to score while serving nine times. Poly took a 24-19 lead, but Western battled back to 24-22 before a shot down the line by Keshawna Buise finished the game.

Western fell behind early in the fourth game and could never get any closer than four points. At one point, Poly scored nine of 10 points to close out the game and win the match.

Buise pointed to Byrd's coaching as a major factor in the win and the championship season.

"She really knows the game, and she gives us a lot of confidence," said Buise of the first-year varsity coach. "I think that reflects through us on the court."

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