Wearing a Poly t-shirt with the periodic table symbols for Borum, Phosphorus and Iodine (the first letters of each element, BPI, also stands for Baltimore Poly Institute), longtime Engineer volleyball coach Kendall Peace-Able talked Tuesday evening about the ingredients of her program.

“Mentality, it’s never been a skill issue. My kids don’t play as much as everybody else, but they’ve brought in, willing to do whatever for the team and each other. They’re all really coachable. It’s organic.”

Poly continued its championship reign in Baltimore City, sweeping City College in straight sets, 25-13, 25-18, 25-20, at Forest Park. The Engineers (12-3 overall) claimed their 11th straight city title and 14th under Peace.

Peace, a 1996 Poly grad, took over two decades ago when-then coach Tiffany Byrd (now city schools Supervisor of Athletics) asked her to take over so she could focus on her pregnancy.

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Poly has been the flagship volleyball program in the city, but it’s not a “volleyball school.” The Engineers roster often has a handful of volleyball players, basketball players using the sport to prepare them for the winter season, and kids new to volleyball.

Arianna Durham’s first love was swimming when she joined the volleyball program last fall.

Now, she’s fully immersed.

“With swimming, you can try to get faster, but with volleyball you can always learn more, you can always watch more film,” said Durham, an outside hitter who plays club with the Baltimore Elite Volleyball Club.

Durham, one of four starters back from last year, was the steadying force as Poly overcame sluggish starts in the first two games. The Engineers got out to a 12-4 advantage in the third set after three straight aces from Mia Sproge.

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The lead was 21-12 after back-to-back aces from Durham, but City (10-4) battled back to 24-20, forcing Peace to use a timeout.

Durham regained order with a kill, and Poly’s volleyball empire continued. Peace has challenged the program with non-league games against private and other public programs over the years to prepare for the state postseason.

Baltimore City has yet to win a state championship, or even advance to a state final.

After years of inadequate play, Peace believes city league volleyball is on the upswing.

“I’ve seen so much good volleyball this year,” said Peace. “A lot of different programs are doing better, the coaching is different. People are playing back and forth.”

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Poly volleyball captured its 11th straight Baltimore City championship Tuesday evening. The Engineers swept City at Forest Park. (Gregory Jones/Gregory Jones)

“If we continue to have the girls have support with club teams and club sports…they have to understand if you want to be a good volleyball player, you have to play club, you have to put in the work in the offseason,” said City coach Francessa Guy, who played volleyball at Dunbar and Coppin. “We have a lot of passion for the girls and if they understand they have our support, that’s how it’s going to grow.”

The Engineers and Knights are the top seeds in the Class 3A North Region I. City will play the winner of Franklin/Digital Harbor Wednesday while Poly has the winner of Mervo and Woodlawn.

“This is probably my best defensive team,” said Peace-Able, whose team played McDonogh, Francis Scott Key and Washington County’s Smithsburg in non-league. .”They have some heart.”.