Player of the Year: Brittany Born, Archbishop Spalding
Born closed out an outstanding four-year career by leading the Cavaliers to their first Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship, a school record for wins (18-3) and their highest-ever ranking at No. 4 in the The Sun's final poll.
The 5-foot-4 senior setter, who is the first volleyball player from Spalding to be named Metro Player of the Year, played hard every time she took the court. A vivid example of her commitment to the game came in the A Conference final, where the Cavaliers upset St. Paul's, 3-2
Leaping, hitting, passing, blocking and diving for balls all over the floor at Goucher College, Born finished with a match-high 41 assists, three kills and 14 digs.
In addition, her constant chattering and cheerleading drove her teammates to reach a goal they had set back in August and that Born had promised all season long, even after Spalding lost to St. Paul's in the regular season.
With 464 assists in 68 games for an average of 6.8 per game, Born finished with an Anne Arundel County career record of 1,226 assists, eclipsing the mark of 1,155 by last year's All-Metro setter, Stephanie Carey of Broadneck.
Born, who is ranked 37th in a senior class of 264 with a 4.1 grade point average and 1,960 SAT score, also had 154 digs (292 career), 54 kills (237), 52 aces (142) and a .930 serving percentage. She is considering Loyola, Washington and Lee, and Gettysburg.
Coach of the Year: Carole Ferrante, Reservoir
Ferrante's emphasis on defense and taking advantage of opportunities led to the five-year-old school's first appearance in a state volleyball final.
In just her second season as head coach, Ferrante, with only four seniors (two of whom started), led the Gators to their first Howard County championship, the Class 2A South regional title and a 3-1 victory over then-No. 1 Liberty in the state semifinals.
Along the way, the No. 2 Gators (19-2) knocked off defending Class 2A state champion Glenelg three times, the last two by 3-2 scores in the county championship match and the 2A South regional final. The Gators defeated perennial county champion Centennial in four games to reach the county final.
Reservoir won the first two games in the state final against North East of Cecil County, but then lost three straight games.
Still, the loss in the final did not taint the Gators' banner season, as they rose to the top of perhaps the area's best league ahead of Centennial and Glenelg, two teams that have dominated over the past decade. Ferrante is 32-6 in her two seasons.
Louise Brooks, Bryn Mawr
After leading Bryn Mawr to its first volleyball championship, a 17-3 record and No. 11 ranking, Brooks becomes the school's first player to be named to the All-Metro first team for volleyball. The fluid, 6-foot senior outside hitter, who is headed to Washington and Lee, averaged 4.5 kills per game (328 in 73 games) and posted a serving percentage of .917 on 209 of 228 attempts.
Her hitting and overall play around the net established the Mawrtians of coach Tim Dunbar as the team to beat in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland B Conference. After finishing as B Conference runners-up in 2005, the Brooks-led Mawrtians rolled to the title in November, going 6-1 in the semifinals and final. Brooks had 17 kills in a 3-0 semifinal victory over Mercy, and 21 in the team's 3-1 triumph over Maryvale Prep in the final.
Michelle Grosso, Centennial
Grosso's 2006 season was like a replay of last year's. Once again, the 5-foot-11 middle hitter played a prominent role in another Class 3A state championship for the No. 1 Eagles. It was Centennial's third straight state championship and a state-record 13th, and Grosso, also a first-team pick last season, lived up to her reputation as a big-game player.
Grosso, who averaged 2.4 kills per game (174 in 73 games), used her quick, explosive style at the net to record 20 kills in a 3-2 semifinal victory over No. 10 Catonsville, and came back with 15 kills and five aces in a 3-1 victory in the final over Calvert County's Huntingtown (18-1). In last year's state tournament, Grosso had 25 kills in the two games, led the Eagles in blocks (36) and had 44 digs, 32 aces and 15 assists.
Kelsey Lisle, Seton Keough
The 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter who combines power, quickness, uncanny court vision and savy, repeated as the Baltimore City Player of the Year. Lisle, also a first-team pick last season, easily handled more balls than any player in the metro area and more than doubled her kills, going from 321 in 62 games (5.2) to 659 in 84 games. Her 7.9 kills per game on a hitting percentage of .569 led the metro area.
Adding Lisle's 4.1 kills per game as a sophomore, she recorded over 1,200 kills for her three-year career. In leading the Gators to a 15-8 record, Lisle also had 385 digs in 84 games for an average of 4.6 per game. Lisle, who will play for Bucknell next year, also had 167 aces.
Tehya Mockapetris, Centennial
Mockapetris, 5 feet 3, played much bigger than her size and was as hard an outside hitter as there was in the metro area. She led the Class 3A state champion Eagles in kills with 227 in 74 games, an average of 3.1 per game, and aces with 67 off her powerful jump-serve.
Possessing a 30-inch vertical leap, strength and quickness on her no-look line shot, Mockapetris frequently dominated matches. She often went on torrid streaks that seemed to deflate the opposition. Power-hitting, however, was not all the senior did. Constantly hustling, she also played tenacious defense in the back row and had 160 digs. In a 3-1 loss to eventual Howard County champion Reservoir in the county semifinals, Mockapetris had 19 digs.
Marah Schmitz, Dulaney
Schmitz was named Baltimore County Player of the Year for a second straight season after helping the No. 7 Lions repeat as Baltimore County champions. Schmitz, who led Dulaney to the state final in 2005, saw her team fall to eventual Class 4A state champion Sherwood of Montgomery County, 3-1, in the 4A North regional semifinals this season.
Her all-around game drew high praise from opposing coaches, not to mention her coach, Cary Lyon. The 5-foot-7 senior outside hitter delivered powerful kills, has a hard jump-serve, is a superb passer with excellent court vision and played good defense. She raised her kills from 2.7 per game as a junior to 3.6 this season with 150 in 42 games. Her hitting percentage was .513. Schmitz also had 170 digs, an average of 4.1 per game.
Melissa Stansbury, Liberty
Stansbury, a second-team All-Metro selection last year as a junior, elevated her game this season, earning honors as Carroll County's Player of the Year. Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said that Stansbury, who is an All-County performer in the shot put and discus in track, has the best all-around skills of any player in Carroll County.
The 5-foot-10 outside hitter led her county in kills with 3.0 per game and helped the Lions win their eighth consecutive Carroll County title and sixth straight 2A West regional crown. She had averaged 2.5 kills last year, but she worked hard to get stronger and it paid off. In the Lions' 3-1 loss to Reservoir in the 2A state semifinals, Stansbury had 13 kills. Serving at an 80-percent clip, she delivered 56 aces to finish her career with a school-record 138. Defensively, Stansbury was outstanding and was atop the metro area list with 5.3 digs per game.
Jamie Thomas, Reservoir
Thomas, a three-year starter, put it all together this year in leading the five-year-old school to its first Howard County championship and first state final. Thomas, Howard County's Player of the Year, averaged 3.2 kills per game as the Gators' go-to player and also led her team in digs with 2.8 per game. The senior had 18 kills in the team's five-game victory over No. 6 Glenelg in the county championship and 14 in the 2A South regional final, also a win over Glenelg in five games.
In a 3-1 triumph over Liberty in the Class 2A state semifinals, Thomas had match-highs of 17 kills and 13 digs. Thomas, 5 feet 9, followed that with 15 kills in the state final. She also served at 89 percent.
Bailey Webster, St. Paul's
Considered by many to be the area's most powerful hitter, the 6-foot-3 sophomore led the No. 5 Gators to a 20-4 season and a runner-up finish in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. Webster, who averaged 4.0 kills per game with 372 in 94 games, has a 24-inch vertical leap, superb anticipation, an eye for open spaces, sheer power and quick hands.
Webster, whose hitting percentage was .592, could take over a game, as evidenced by her performance in the IAAM A Conference final against No. 4 Archbishop Spalding. Her 11 kills in Game 3 gave St. Paul's a 25-16 win and 2-1 lead over Spalding, which rallied to win the next two and the title despite Webster's match-high 29 kills. She had 21 kills in a five-game loss to Good Counsel, one of the Washington area's top teams, in October. Webster, whose older sister Brooks was an All-Metro player for A Conference champion the Institute of Notre Dame three years ago, also had 94 blocks (55 solo) and 76 aces.
Name, School, Class, Pos.
Adriane Blake Glen Burnie Senior Hitter
Rachel Burke Reservoir Senior Hitter
Lija Glemza Catonsville Senior Hitter
Dani Katsampis F.S. Key Senior Hitter
Rachel Kuegler Fallston Junior Hitter
Stephanie Natale Glenelg Senior Hitter
Amanda Rhein Covenant Cs Soph. Hitter
Colleen Seeba Arch. Spalding Senior Hitter
Jill Umetin Havre de Grace Senior Setter