Poly volleyball sweeps City to win Baltimore City’s 11th consecutive title – Baltimore Sun
It’s obvious when you see her play that Arianna Durham loves volleyball. The second is a team leader for Poly, despite her young age. With the way she played Tuesday at Forest Park, it was only fitting that her down-the-line kill would end a City College rally and hand the Engineers another Baltimore City volleyball championship, 25-13 , 25-18, 25-20.
The title is Poly’s 11th in a row and the program’s 14th overall. It would be fair to say that the engineers (11-3) are probably the oldest dynasty in the region that you have never heard of.
“I’ve seen so much good volleyball this year. The coaching is so much better,” said Kendall Peace, Poly’s coach of 21 years. “We had to come back a bit from behind tonight. I think sometimes the emotions are strong. We are very young. I was proud of the effort they played with.
The engineers fell behind at the start of each of the three sets, but took control towards the middle. City had their best set in the third, as the Black Knights (10-5) trailed 21-12 before rallying to draw at 24-20. City fended off four match points and forced Peace to call a time-out for the first and only time in the match. After the break, Durham’s kill ended it.
For Durham, volleyball is its primary sport. She plays club for the Baltimore Elite Volleyball program during the offseason. This is her second title, since she started as a setter last season in first year.
“I swam for about eight years,” said Durham, now an outside hitter. “You can somehow go faster [in swimming], but with volleyball you can continue to learn and improve. I really like sports.”
For Riley Holiday senior, volleyball is a way to stay in shape for the basketball season. Holiday played on Poly’s basketball team last year, when the engineers — again led by Peace — won the Class 3A state title.
“Well, volleyball and basketball have some of the same movements on the court. You jump and you have the same lateral movement,” Holiday said. “It’s a great way to stay in shape. It’s also a lot of fun.
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Holiday says the team’s success will hopefully help the sport grow.
“Volleyball is not as important in the city. You don’t really see a lot of kids playing volleyball,” Holiday said. “Our team has great chemistry, and hopefully that will help change that.”
Both teams advance to the Class 3A State Playoffs. They each have a bye this week, but will face lower-ranked teams early next Monday. If they both win on Monday, they could meet for the regional championship next week, with the winner advancing to the state quarterfinals.
The state level has been a challenge for Baltimore City teams, but things are starting to look up. A few years ago, Poly nearly upset Huntingtown of Calvert County, a perennial state powerhouse, in a regional final, losing in five sets.
“A lot of different programs in the city are getting better,” Peace said. “What our programs suffer the most from is attrition. When people change jobs, people come with different coaching styles and the kids have to adapt. This happens often, but we didn’t have to.
For City, the defeat was another opportunity to improve.
“The girls had a great season and I think they played very well. We took a departure from [Poly] in the regular season so it was good,” said City coach Francesca Guy, who is now in her second season at the school. “We have to work a little more on our defense. Next year we hope to do a little better.