No. 8 Tow­son sweeps No. 14 Poly to ad­vance

Gen­er­als ex­tend win­ning streak to 17 matches as they se­cure spot in state semis

Baltimore Sun - - VARSITY - By Tom Worgo

This time, the Poly girls vol­ley­ball team got off to a bet­ter start than in its meet­ing with Tow­son last year. But the end­ing was all too fa­mil­iar. The No. 8 Gen­er­als swept the No. 14 En­gi­neers, 25-20, 25-16, 25-18, on Fri­day night to take its sec­ond straight Class 3A North re­gion cham­pi­onship.

Poly coach Ken­dall Peace-Able wasn’t around to see the end­ing. She was ejected late in the first set.

That didn’t take away from Tow­son’s cel­e­bra­tion.

“We are play­ing re­ally well at the right time,” said Tow­son coach Emily Ber­man, whose team ex­tended its win­ning streak to 17 matches. “We are re­ally com­ing to­gether. This was a great win. That’s just what we needed go­ing into the state semi­fi­nals.”

The Gen­er­als’ march to Mon­day’s 3A state semi­fi­nals in Col­lege Park, where the Bal­ti­more County cham­pi­ons will play No. 5 Atholton, was more pre­dictable this year.

Un­like last fall, when Tow­son sur­prised some by mak­ing its first trip to the fi­nal four in five sea­sons, the Gen­er­als en­tered 2016 know­ing they had good rea­son to ex­pect a re­turn trip.

“I think all my teams have been pretty good, but this team has all-star po­ten­tial at cer­tain po­si­tions,” Ber­man said. “I have a strong out­side hit­ter [Sara Man­dreja] and re­ally good libero [Maeve O’Con­nor]. I think those two work to­gether to cre­ate a re­ally solid team.” Man­dreja, a ju­nior, had 12 kills. Tow­son (17-2) also re­ceived solid ef­forts from Michaila Sheedy (nine kills), Ni­cole Race (eight digs, four aces, three kills) and Lo­gan Marsh (24 as­sists).

The Gen­er­als got off to a slow start in the first set. Poly (15-2) took a 6-3 lead, thanks to Whit­ney Chap­pell’s three straight aces. The En­gi­neers’ big­gest lead was 14-10. Tow­son fought back and held a 21-19 ad­van­tage when Peace-Able re­ceived a yel­low and red card for fail­ing to con­trol a Poly sup­porter. It de­layed the match 10 min­utes.

Peace-Able, who watched the re­main­der of match from an of­fice in the gym, wasn’t avail­able to com­ment fol­low­ing the game.

“It was for fan in­ter­fer­ence,” said Ber­man, ex­plain­ing the rea­son for each card. “The fan would not leave the premises.”

Tow­son was awarded two penalty points on its way to pre­vail­ing in the first set.

The Gen­er­als were most im­pres­sive in the sec­ond set, jump­ing out to a 10-3 lead be­hind the serv­ing of Sheedy. Poly closed to 12-10 be­fore Tow­son took con­trol.

The En­gi­neers, who were swept in the re­gional fi­nal last year by Tow­son, wouldn’t go qui­etly in the third set, led by the play of Chap­pell and Han­nah Amodia. Af­ter nine ties, the last one com­ing at 17-17, Tow­son closed with an 8-1 run.

“I think we didn’t make a lot of mistakes,” Man­dreja said. “We were very con­sis­tent. We passed well and hit well.”

KAREN JACK­SON/FOR THE BAL­TI­MORE SUN ME­DIA GROUP

Tow­son play­ers re­joice af­ter beat­ing Poly in straight sets. The Gen­er­als will face No. 5 Atholton on Mon­day in a Class 3A state semi­fi­nal.

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