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Falcons' serves fit to kill


Wait a minute, girls, don't get too good too soon on me.

That seems to be the message Severna Park volleyball coach Tim Dunbar is trying to send his players these days.

It is only the first week of October and far too early to peak. The regionals are still a month away.

Still, the top-ranked and unbeaten Falcons (7-0) played about as well as any high school volleyball team could play last Friday against Northeast.

The serving was 60-for-60, All-Metro first-teamer Julie Allen had 18 kills, the passing was splendid and Northeast won only four points in the match.

"We played flawlessly," Dunbar said. "We ran a lot of our offense, didn't miss a serve, mixed up our offense. I began substituting liberally in the second game and we seemed to break down any strategy Northeast had."

When asked why his team might have been so pumped up for the Eagles, Dunbar said he wasn't sure.

"We were flat two days before that against Old Mill [winning in three games but giving up 22 points] and I gave them Thursday off before the Northeast match, which was homecoming," he said.

Severna Park will try to make it eight in a row today, traveling to North County for a 4:30 match against the No. 12 Knights (4-2), who have lost two in a row since getting off to a 4-0 start.

Then comes the North Caroline tournament Saturday, featuring four of the top six teams in the Baltimore Sun poll.

Joining No. 1 Severna Park from the Baltimore area will be No. 2 Centennial, No. 5 Glenelg and No. 6 Perry Hall in the all-day test of endurance.

"It's a good tournament for bragging rights," said Dunbar. "But no team wants to peak this early. There's nowhere to go now. We have perfected some of our plays but I don't think we'll have a polished product by Saturday."

Even though it is still early in the season and tournament play is best two out of three games instead of three of five, this North Caroline tournament often gives an indication of who will be playing for state championships in November.

Last year, Northern of Calvert defeated Centennial in two straight games in the final. Northern went on to win the state 4A title and Centennial captured the state 3A championship.

Two years ago, Severna Park won it all at North Caroline on its way to a third straight state 4A championship. Last year, the Falcons lost to Northern in the semis.

This year's version of Severna Park volleyball is much more experienced and deeper in talent than the 1994 squad.

For instance, 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter Jennifer Holmes doesn't even start and isn't needed for power when she comes into the lineup. Her role is primarily as a blocker.

The kills come from Allen (105 in seven games), Lauren Butler (61) and Rachael Benton (37).

Danielle Kaegel is an unsung hero on the team, running the offense, getting assists in bunches and playing strong defense. She is also an accomplished server with a 90.6 percent success rate.

As a team, the Falcons serve 88.8 percent. Last week against Old Mill and Northeast, Severna Park missed only eight serves.

For the season, Butler (96.1 percent) leads the team, Danielle Kaegel is second, Benton third (90), Allen fourth (86.7) and Dana Kaegel fifth (86.5).

"I feel good about this team," said Dunbar. "It is strong with a lot of potential."

But he wouldn't compare it to any of the state championship squads of 1991, 1992 and 1993.

"In 1991 I felt we had a shot to win a state title, in 1992 we knew we were going to win when we went out on the court and in 1993 we were so strong nobody was going to beat us," said Dunbar. "But 1987 might have been our best team. We had some of our best players ever but lost to Wootton in the 4A finals."

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