By Andrew Conrad, email@example.com
10:55 AM EST, December 19, 2012
Centennial's Trisha Mockapetris still remembers the time that her great aunt came to one of her volleyball matches, and she was surprised to see that her angelic great niece had turned into a lean, mean, volleyball-killing machine.
"I had no idea this sweet little girl could be so intense on the court," Mockapetris recalls her relative saying.
But Mockapetris, the Howard County Times volleyball Player of the Year, has always undergone a transformation after putting on the Eagles uniform.
"My favorite part is when you walk into a gym and you can just hear the crowd screaming. Whether it's your fans or the other team's fans, they came to see you," she said.
And Mockapetris gave the fans plenty to scream about.
In four seasons, the senior tallied career totals of almost 650 kills in 1,600 attempts, with only 250 errors for an impressive career .250 hitting percentage. A complete player, she also had 54 career blocks, 460 digs, served at over 93 percent and was one of the team's most reliable serve receivers, with only 46 errors in 600 chances. Since starting as a freshman, and being named a team captain as only a sophomore, Mockapetris led the Eagles to three county championships, two regional titles and a District V championship.
After starting her senior season 18-0, including three-set sweeps in their first seven matches, Mockapetris and the Eagles appeared poised to go out with a state championship as well.
It wasn't to be, however, as Centennial fell to North Hagerstown in straight sets in the 3A state championship.
"We had a really good season ... We fought together and learned so much about each other; we flowed together," said Mockapetris, who had 15 of her team's 28 kills in that loss. "We pushed hard enough to get there, but we didn't push as hard as we needed to finish it."
After dropping the first set, Mockapetris gathered her teammates in a corner behind the far stands for a pep talk.
"I didn't really have to say anything. She pulled the team aside," coach Larry Schofield said. "That's what helped me out so much. She was in charge and the girls liked her and really followed her."
But it wasn't always like that. As the younger sister of Tehya Mockapetris — the 2006 Player of the Year for Maryland who led the Eagles to a state championship — Trisha found that volleyball was a way of life early on.
"I was dragged to every practice, every tournament, every game. At age 8 or 9 I said 'I'm sick of just sitting and watching. I want to start playing'," she said.
But aside for their name and love of volleyball, the sisters had little in common.
Tehya stood 5-foot-3 and possessed a 30-inch vertical leap, while Trisha stands 5-foot-10.
Once she started playing, Trisha was eager to make her own name.
As a fourth-grader, she began playing on a middle school club team with future Eagle stars Sam Brostrom and Liz Brown — both Howard County Players of the Year — who led Centennial to the 2008 state championship as sophomores.
When Brostrom and Brown graduated, Mockapetris found herself the captain of Centennial's storied program.
"I was a captain my sophomore year, but I wasn't the one they looked up to. I had to learn how to lead," she said. "It was a different atmosphere going from watching in the stands thinking, 'I'm going to be there one day' to being there as a leader."
Schofield had confidence.
"She didn't ask for it; (leadership) is a natural thing," he said. "You will want her on your team ... for three years she has been the most feared hitter in the county and one of the top in the state."
Mockapetris' great aunt was also right about her personality off the court. When Schofield's wife was hospitalized earlier this season, Trisha — who says she would eventually like to work as a wedding planner — organized a get-well card team signing and photo, and hand-delivered it to Schofield and his wife at the hospital.
"It was a major emotional lift," Schofield said. "That was all her doing. She has that sensitive side as well."
So while the Mockapetris name will always be synonymous with Centennial volleyball — Tehya and Trisha are just the second pair of sisters from Howard County to each earn Player of the Year, joining Glenelg's Marisa (1993) and Elisa Davidson (1995) — Trisha will certainly be remembered for her first name as well.
"Most of these girls had no idea who her sister was. They knew the name, but Trisha was the Mockapetris that they knew," Schofield said. "She really did carve out her own place."
Named to the first team:
Camryn Long, Glenelg senior. Long was Glenelg's captain on the floor and in the locker room.
"She demonstrated the ability to get to every pass and make a good set out of it....often making a great set out of a bad pass," coach Don Beall said.
In addition to her 458 assists, Long was one of the most versatile setters in the league, also making 20 blocks, 134 digs, 26 aces and 63 kills.
Long led the Gladiators to 12 wins and had eight kills, 22 digs and 22 assists in a regional championship loss to Calvert.
Lexi White-Torruellas, Centennial senior. White-Torruellas' 605 assists were tops in the league, and she finished with well over 1,000 in her career as an Eagle.
She "directed a very versatile offense to 18 wins," Schofield said.
Under her guidance, five different Eagles had at least 65 kills, and White-Torruellas also managed 134 digs and served an impressive 96 percent with 23 aces.
She had six matches this season with at least 40 assists, including a season-high 52 in a five-set win over rival River Hill.
Sydney Biniak, Howard junior. Transitioning from middle blocker to outside hitter after two full seasons as a varsity starter, Biniak — also a standout basketball player — went through a period of adjustment, but ended up as the Lions best all-around player.
"At the halfway point she really began to understand how to play OH and her stats showed it," coach Grant Scott said.
In the second half of the season, Biniak accounted for more than a third of the team's kills, finishing with 166 and 27 blocks, and leading the Lions on a run to the regional championship match at Centennial.
The all-around athlete also became a leader on defense, with 168 digs and the Lions' second-best serve receive average (1.81). She also developed a powerful jump serve this season which netted her a league-best 68 aces.
Cassidy Davis, River Hill senior. A captain and three-year varsity starter, Davis came into her own this year after playing under her older sisters, twins Kelly and Caitlin, the last two seasons.
She moved from middle hitter to outside hitter this year and finished with career highs in kills (184, second behind only Mockapetris), aces (28) and digs (139).
"Cassidy leads by example on the court and has been key to our offense and defense over the last two years," coach Lynn Paynter said.
An excellent server, Davis finished with a career serving percentage of well over 90 percent and led the Hawks to the Gator Invitational finals and 12 wins.
Morgan Perry, Glenelg junior. A repeat all-county first team selection, Perry had another remarkable season, and is still only a junior.
"This is her third year on varsity and she has improved every year," Beall said. "This year she was again one of the dominant outside hitters and one of the best all-round players in the county."
Despite battling a midseason injury, Perry finished with 148 kills in 312 attempts with less than 40 errors for an excellent .349 hitting percentage.
Also her team's top all-around defensive player, Perry recorded 243 digs and 28 blocks.
In a five-set win over River Hill, Perry finished with a season-high 19 kills.
Jessie Link, Centennial junior. Link complemented Mockapetris as a dominant presence up front. Although only 5-foot-9, she used her speed and leaping ability to control the net (22 blocks).
She's "easily the quickest (middle hitter) in the state," Schofield said. "She'll step up next year and be a leader."
Link made the most of her opportunities, collecting 112 kills in only 231 attempts with 16 errors, for an incredible .416 hitting percentage. She was also an extremely accurate server, missing only seven times in well over 200 attempts (97%).
Kristen Flint, Howard senior. As the Lions only senior starter, Flint played a vital role in leading Howard to the regional finals and its finest season in years.
"I believe that Kristen is one of a few true opposites in the county. She was my floor captain," Scott said. "Kristen was integral in the offense as a player who would get the key kill when we needed it from the right side and as a team leader."
Flint played every set at opposite this season and collected 96 kills in only 247 attempts. She also chipped in 19 assists, 12 aces, 69 digs and 14 blocks.
Allie Cable, Oakland Mills senior. For the past four seasons, Cable has been a steady force on an inexperienced Scorpions team.
A veteran of elite club volleyball, Cable was capable of playing any position on the court — and occasionally did — but thrived as a defensive specialist.
She finished her career with almost 800 digs, leading the team each season, including 315 this fall, three behind the league-leader, Reservoir's Alexa Kelley (318).
"She's played every position for me throughout her varsity career, played through (shoulder and knee) injuries all season long and is basically my assistant coach," coach Dan Tucci said. "When she was too injured to practice some days she would run drills for the back row players."
Cable sat out only six sets in her career, and in addition to her gaudy dig totals, finished with 129 aces and 83 kills.
She is looking to play for Lebanon Valley or Goucher College next year.
SettersShelby Fredrickson, Long Reach senior
Outside hittersCailin Fredrickson, Long Reach senior
Middle hittersMolly Calvert, Glenelg junior
Opposite hittersSarah Girard, Glenelg sophomore
LiberosNaomi Burke, Atholton senior