You could hear the difference in last night's Baltimore City volleyball match between Poly and Digital Harbor.
Constant chatter echoed around Poly's court. Digital Harbor's side was just too quiet.
The talk kept the Engineers running smoothly to a 25-10, 25-17, 25-17 victory that went a long way toward earning them a berth in the city final.
The win wasn't expected to be so easy. After all, the visiting Rams had beaten Poly last season and had taken defending city champion Western to five games before falling a few weeks ago.
But Poly (6-0) rolled up big leads in all three games and held off Rams rallies in the final two.
"We seemed to talk more today," middle hitter Elisha Clayton said. "Even though we had new people in, we still communicated when we made some changes."
The Engineers played their typically balanced net offense, but also excelled defensively. Clayton and Andrea Robinson had two blocks each while Jasmine Keene played exceptional defense in the backcourt.
"Poly played a great game and they communicated like crazy," Digital Harbor coach Monica Dailey said. "They were calling everything. You could hear all kinds of communication on their side of the floor, whereas our communication was just missing."
Offensively, Erin Cox led Poly with nine kills while Robinson had seven and Clayton five. Setter Joi Upton had 20 assists.
Digital Harbor (5-2) had only five kills in the match - two each by Marjorie Detres and Brittany Billups.
For the Engineers, Upton said, the key to success goes beyond their skills.
"I think it's the chemistry off the court that makes us so good," Upton said. "We're so close and we're such good friends that when we get on [the court] we just have fun. We just play our game."
Poly coach Kendall Peace agreed, adding that she's trying to use that bond to help the girls set small, more immediate goals rather than looking so far ahead to the playoffs.
None of the players talked afterward about how last night's win along with last week's four-game victory over Western make the Engineers favorites to win the city title. They know they'll have to earn it. They defeated Western last year during the regular season, too, and then lost the championship match to the Doves in five games.
"Every game is a big game when you're trying to be undefeated and you're trying to win the city championship," Upton said. "A lot of people think we shouldn't be winning and how they don't think we're as good as we think we are. We just want to show people what we're about."
No. 3 McDonogh 1, John Carroll 0 -- Sophomore Joe Vidmar found senior Adam Mayer for the lone score of the game as the host Eagles (7-1-1) edged the Patriots (5-4).
Eastern Tech 3, Franklin 1 -- Trailing 1-0, the Mavericks (6-3) - led by Mike Sokolis with a goal and an assist - rallied to top the Indians (4-2-1).
North Harford 4, Bel Air 2 -- The host Hawks built an early lead behind junior Laura Carman, who had three goals to lead North Harford (6-3) past the Bobcats (4-4).