Bel Air learns by going against the best


DENTON -- The scores may not show it, but Bel Air coach Amy Kunkle could not have asked for much more from her team yesterday.

The Bobcats did not win a game but they gained some valuable experience against some of the state's toughest teams at the eighth annual Bulldog Classic Volleyball Tournament at North Caroline High School.

"Actually, I'm very happy with the way they played today," said first-year coach Kunkle, whose team came into the tournament with a 3-5 record. "Hopefully, when we get back to Bel Air, their play will continue because we're not going to see anybody at this level in our county."

The 15-team tournament included four teams ranked in The Baltimore Sun's Top 15 -- No. 1 Centennial, No. 4 Mount Hebron, No. 6 Severna Park and No. 8 Perry Hall -- as well as highly regarded Northern of Calvert County.

The Bobcats drew only Centennial in pool play, falling 8-15, 3-15. They also dropped two games each to North Caroline, Lackey and High Point. Their closest match came in an 11-15, 10-15 loss to Lackey.

Three players had a big day for the Bobcats -- senior setter Robyn Kekaucha and hitters Diana Little and Amy Whitsel, who each finished the tournament with 10 kills.

"You get motivated to know that all these teams who are going to be here are going to be really good," said Kekaucha. "We did a lot better than we thought we would. It was the best we've played all season. Everyone says so."

Kunkle said she hopes to bring the Bobcats back next year.

"It's a wonderful experience for the kids," said Kunkle, "because they saw really good teams here and now they know what's out there. They know what they need to work on to make them better."

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