Experience and senior leadership guided Poly's volleyball team to quick victories in the first two games of last night's match against Western and then helped the Engineers close out a tight third game.
The Engineers didn't want to give their next-door neighbors and top rivals even the slightest chance to come back in a fourth game as they closed out a 25-9, 25-13, 25-23 victory in a Baltimore City league game.
Senior outside hitter Erin Cox had six of her 11 kills in the third game, and seniors Kamilah Blackston and Shante Mercer closed the match with blocks on the last two points.
"We really wanted this after last year and so many years of not winning cities," Engineers senior setter Kathryn Murphy said. "It has so much to do with cities, and we just wanted to get it. We need to keep on talking, keep on moving, keep on working together."
Poly coach Kendall Peace said her team lost focus for a while in the third game, which helped a young Western team gain confidence and run up a 13-9 lead. Peace called a timeout, and the Engineers (5-0, 4-0 city) soon erased the Doves' edge.
"We were being smarter," Cox said, "because once you look at the scoreboard and see that you're down, you always try to be the smartest."
Cox contributed four kills and two aces, Elisha Clayton had a kill and Blackston a block as the Engineers took a 19-18 lead and never again trailed.
The Doves (2-3, 2-1) tied the game at 23 thanks to a couple of kills from Jennifer Oppong-Korang and another from Tasherra Montgomery, but Western service errors gave Poly two of its final four points.
"They always play us early in the year," Western coach Monique Butler said, "and I have a lot of girls just learning to play and some just starting for the first time. By the third game, we picked it up."
This, however, is likely only the first round for these two teams. Poly has won the regular-season match the past two years only to fall in the city final to the Doves, who have won three straight titles. Poly last won in 2003.
"We need to keep working as a team and showing respect and thinking we can do it," Cox said.