Western takes short path to earn 5th city title in row


The city volleyball trophy presentation is getting to be pretty routine. The trophy comes out of the Western athletic office to the Doves' players. After a couple of pictures, it goes back into the office.

The Doves' reign as city champions continued last night with a three-game sweep of Poly, 15-2, 15-13, 15-6, for their fifth consecutive title. For the past few years, winning here has lacked drama, but Western hasn't gotten bored.

"No sir, never," said senior hitter Janay Wheeler. "As I was walking out of the door, a former Poly player told me that they'll win next year, and they've been saying that for a long time."

Though Poly (1990 and '91) and City ('96 and '97) have won city titles, they're just footnotes in a record book written by Western. The Doves have won every other title since 1988 and have an 15 since 1975.

Impressive in the opening set, Western (13-2) had to rally past its next-door rival in the second set before finishing the Engineers (10-4) in the final set. The Doves swept Poly during the regular season.

"The second game, they came out with the attitude that they were going to do the same again, but Poly showed they wanted it as much as they did," said Western's first-year coach, Cassandra Melton, who played on Severna Park's 1991 Class 4A state championship squad. "I just had to tell them they had to step up if they really wanted to play and win this."

The Engineers led 10-5 in the second set before the Doves rallied, scoring eight of the next nine points for a 13-11 advantage. An ace by Alyicia William-Chase drew Poly even at 13, but the Doves got the decisive two points to take a commanding 2-games-to-0 lead.

Western built a 13-3 cushion in the final set before Cheyenne Redd placed a shot in the middle of Poly's side to complete the match. Despite being swept, Poly coach Norman Perry was pleased that his team reached the final again with little or no experience heading into the regular season.

The Engineers, seeded No. 7 in the 2A North region, will travel to Pikesville tomorrow afternoon for an opening-round match. The Doves, top seed in the 4A North region, will play either Parkville or Lake Clifton in the quarterfinals Monday.

"The girls have been motivated, because we've played teams outside of Baltimore," said Melton, whose team's only losses have come against the Institute of Notre Dame and C. Milton Wright. "They're ready to play and know what's expected."

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