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Gilman volleyball aiming for perfect season

Gilman's Ben Gantt spikes over the John Carroll front row during the Greyhounds sweep of the Patriots on Oct. 17.
Gilman's Ben Gantt spikes over the John Carroll front row during the Greyhounds sweep of the Patriots on Oct. 17. (Brian Krista, Baltimore Sun Media Group)

Gilman volleyball appears to be on its way to accomplishing some things it has never done before. The first would be the only perfect season in the program's 13-year history.

And, since Gilman won the title last year, the Greyhounds will be going for the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship again.

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A strong senior class is at the heart of the team's success this fall. Coach Neil Gabbey raves about his 11 seniors, the largest group he has ever had.

The talented group includes setters Jack Auen, Kent Murray and Steven Zeng, defensive specialist Spencer Morris, middle hitters Ben Gantt and Zack Cohen and outside hitters Toren Ginsberg, Jack Halpert and Michael Collins, opposite hitter Ben Moore and libero Carlyle Turner.

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"I am blessed," said Gabbey, whose team is 15-0. "I don't mean to disparage any of the groups of seniors that I've had, but I couldn't come up with enough adjectives to describe them. Come up with the best superlatives in the English language. Put them all together and multiply by 100 and you will get this group."

The seniors have been focused on a perfect season, and it becomes more realistic with every victory.

The Greyhounds made it 14 in a row with their 10th sweep of the season in a victory over host John Carroll on Oct. 17.

Gilman has won 46 of 51 games.

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Gabbey doesn't believe shooting for an undefeated season will jinx his team.

"We do talk about it," Gabbey said. "People say, "Don't say you are undefeated. I am like, 'Why not?' You reap what you sow. I have said to the team, 'Let's not be satisfied. We have to keep playing really, really well and keep working hard in practice. Why should we stop improving?"

Auen makes the team go. He had 23 assists to help the Greyhounds to a sweep of Boys' Latin two days before the John Carroll match.

"He is the best setter I've ever had," Gabbey said. "He doesn't look like the most athletic kid, but his hands are like money. He puts the ball where it needs to be. We run a fast-paced offense and we run a lot of play calls and a lot of audibles. He never calls the wrong play."

Auen often wants to get the ball to take advantage of the size and skills of Gantt (6 feet 5) and Moore (6-6).

Ginsberg has also been impressive, and he plays bigger than his size. Gabbey says Ginsberg relishes the big moments in games.

"He is a winner," Gabbey said. "If we need a ball to go down or go over the net, Toren wants the ball and we will get him the ball. He will do something with it."

Ginsberg and Auen complement each other as co-captains.

"They see things on the court that I see," Gabbey said. "They are communicating them to their teammates before I have a chance to. Anybody who is out on the court with them immediately thinks, 'We are going to win because Jack and Toren are out here.' "

The Greyhounds could face the league's second-place team, Boys' Latin (10-4), in the championship Nov. 1 at St. Paul's School. Gilman has swept Boys' Latin twice.

"I think we are a pretty good team," Lakers coach Drew Haugh said. "But they make us look bad. They are just that good. They are solid at every position."

The Greyhounds are eager for the postseason.

"We have a bunch of really good players," Gilman senior Zack Cohen said. "The whole team could be all-conference if they let that happen. We have the blocking and the hitting, but the things that allow us to win games are the digs and hustle plays."

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