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Where have all the volleyball champions gone?

Francis Scott Key

If you are a Baltimore-area high school volleyball fan, the state championship tournament in College Park used to be a welcome place for you to go.

You'd see some great volleyball, and you'd see a few Baltimore-area teams bring home some trophies. If you went to the 2008 state finals, you would have seen three area teams bring home state titles (Broadneck in 4A, Centennial in 3A, Liberty in 2A) and another local team, Glenelg, lose to Poolesville in the Class 1A final.

Well, its 2012, and things have indeed changed.

For the first time since 1984, no local teams left Ritchie Coliseum this season with a volleyball state title. The area's two best hopes, third-ranked Centennial in Class 3A and top-ranked Arundel in Class 4A, both lost in the state finals (to North Hagerstown and Sherwood, respectively).

If anything, it seems the balance of power has shifted to Western Maryland. Washington County was the big winner at the state tournament this season, bringing home state championships in Class 1A (Smithsburg, for the fourth consecutive year), Class 2A (Williamsport), and Class 3A (North Hagerstown). Who knows what could have happened if Washington County had a 4A school in its borders.

So, is this a one-year anomaly or a trend? Looking at recent history doesn't offer local fans a lot of solace.

# of state champions Year // from Baltimore area 2008 // 3 (Broadneck, Centennial, Liberty) 2009 // 2 (Broadneck, Francis Scott Key) 2010 // 2 (Towson, Fallston) 2011 // 1 (Century) 2012 // 0

"When I started coaching volleyball 17 years ago, there were maybe five or six volleyball clubs in this area [Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia]. Now there are over 50," said Centennial coach Larry Schofield, whose school has won 14 state titles, more than any other school in Maryland. "These programs are bringing more kids to the sport, and it stretches the talent out. Look at what Western Maryland is doing. They play some pretty good ball out there."

Schofield said volleyball is not stressed as much in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, and that is part of the problem.

"There are good teams in those areas, but you don't see a lot of competition. That is one of the issues," Schofield said. "Another is that the rest of the state is catching up. You can find good teams all over the state, and I think that's good. It's just not helping us here in this area."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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