Bill Clinton was President. The Orioles were in the American League championship series. Kurt Schmoke was Mayor of Baltimore. The Ravens embarked on their inaugural NFL campaign at Memorial Stadium.

It was fall 1996, and City College High shared the Baltimore City volleyball championship with Western. It was the last time the Knights won the city title.

Until Wednesday. City ended its drought with a sweep of Carver Vo-Tech, 25-17, 25-19 and 28-26, on its home court.

“It’s been a wild ride and a long time coming,” said City coach Rolynda Contee, whose team placed first in Division I. “The girls have worked hard every day at practice, not taking any teams lightly. They’ve just worked hard, during the season and offseason, putting their best foot forward.”

The Knights had to do just that in the third set as Carver (11-3 overall), the Division II champ and No. 2 seed in the 1A South Region playoffs facing elimination at 24-21, extended them to deuce for the first time this fall. The Bears made back-to-back unforced errors, clinching the crown for City.

“They have more experience and height,” said Carver coach Cynthia Tucker-Tyson, whose team first city title trip since 1983 was sparked by Markell Johnson, Aoleen Davis, Breiona Garrison and Briana Horsey.

The undefeated Knights (14-0) have only loss one set (vs. W.E.B. DuBois) this season. With only three starters back in junior setter Maggie Terhune, senior hitters Kourtney Anderson and Dominique Dawson, City expected to be in the city title chase.

“The first week of practice I thought we were going to have problems. We couldn’t pass the ball in the back,” said Contee, a 1998 City grad who was a volleyball and basketball standout. “As we kept practicing, putting people in certain positions, things came together.”

“We were pretty raw, it was shaky starting out, but we did an excellent job rebuilding,” said Terhune. “We have some amazing players.”

dominque dawsonSeven players from the Knights’ city championship junior varsity program last fall were promoted to varsity. Libero Sumana Whitelaw, a sophomore foreign exchange student from Australia, solidified the Knights.

“Everyone stayed in the gym after practice, working on their hitting, working on their passing,” said Dawson, who helped City to its first state basketball championship in 2009. “I think this team has a lot more heart.”

Despite being undefeated, City felt it became championship-certified when they swept then-three-time defending city champ Poly a couple of weeks ago. Other than City’s outright crown in 1995 and the 1996 split with Western, Poly and the Doves have won every city title since 1988.

“They’ve dominated but we felt we could go to their court and take it from them,” said Anderson. “We just knew we were going to win.”

The school, affectionately called “The Castle on the Hill,” has one more hill to climb. City is the top seed in the Class 2A state North Region playoffs, and will play either Chesapeake-Baltimore County or Randallstown in the quarterfinals Monday.

Only one city team (Poly in 2007) has advance to the state Final Four at the University of Maryland.

“We’re one of the most athletic and hardest working teams out there,” said Anderson. “We’re not underestimating anybody. We feel our hard work and effort will take us far.”


city college volleyball


Carver Vo-Tech: 1983

City College: 1980, 1981, 1995, 1996 (co-champ), 2010

Douglass: 1977

Edmondson: 1975

Northwestern: 1985, 1987

Poly: 1989, 1990, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009 

Southern-Baltimore: 1979, 1982

Western: 1976, 1978, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006