No. 8 Towson sweeps No. 14 Poly to advance
Generals extend winning streak to 17 matches as they secure spot in state semis
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.”
Towson players rejoice after beating Poly in straight sets. The Generals will face No. 5 Atholton on Monday in a Class 3A state semifinal.