Poly volleyball coach Kendall Peace-Able likes to fly under the radar. That’s becoming harder and harder as Poly’s image in volleyball is getting bigger and bigger. They’re the dynasty that you’ve never heard of.
On Tuesday night, the No. 13 Engineers (13-1), a team dominated by juniors, won their ninth-straight Baltimore City volleyball championship, defeating rival Western, 25-9, 25-7, 25-10, at Forest Park.
Poly built a substantial lead in all three sets, and was never really threatened in the match.
“We like it that way,” Peace-Able said about her teams’ anonymity. “We just want to go out and do our job and get better.”
The first set was a good illustration of how dominant Poly was. The Engineers used a dominant front line of Asia Murray and Jeneal Homer, along with some timely serving by Akashia Johnson and Imani Morris, to jump out to an 14-5 lead. In that span, they had three kills by Murray, two by Tenea Robinson, and aces by Homer and Johnson.
The second and third sets were much the same, as Poly continued to control the net and put relentless pressure of the Doves (10-4).
“It’s a rivalry [with Western], and there’s a lot of back and forth,” Morris said. “Their fans came here with T-shirts and brought a lot of noise. We just wanted to work hard and get the win. It’s always wonderful to bet them.”
The Poly celebration was a little low-key after the win. That’s because the team has set their goal on something a little bigger: a regional championship.
“We’ve come so close,” said Homer, who was on a team that lost to Huntingtown of Charles County in five sets in the regional championship last year. “We have high expectations for ourselves, and we really want to take that next step.”
Peace-Able summed it up about her team when she said, “now the work really begins.”
She has been trying to build the program at Poly, and her efforts seem to be paying off. This year, the Engineers’ only loss came to Rising Sun of Cecil County, a perennial power in Maryland volleyball.
“We had the flexibility to [schedule Rising Sun], so I want to keep doing it,” Peace-Able said. "There’s a lot of things we can do to grow volleyball, but we need to see consistency across the board. I want to see volleyball grow in Baltimore City, and things like that will help us get there.”
“That loss really helped us grow as a team,” Morris said. “Those are the kind of teams we’re going to see in the regionals, so now we know what to expect.”
Poly will open the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in its region Nov. 4, when it hosts the winner of the Towson vs. Franklin match. This could be the year that the Engineers, who haven’t been College Park since 2007, take the next step.
“We just have to go out and compete,” Peace-Able said. “We have to play who they put on the schedule. I like the work ethic we have, so we’ll see what we can do.”
Baltimore City Championship
(at Forest Park)
#13 Poly d Western, 25-9, 25-7, 25-10