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Volleyball: Departure of Class of 2011 opens the door for new stars to rise

There are no Cal Ripkens in the world of high school athletics.

For almost 20 years, the Baltimore Orioles could count on Ripken for about 20 home runs, 80 RBIs and steady defense.

High school coaches have no such luck.

Coaches must deal with major roster turnover each year, but this year is a whopper. Of the 18 players named all-county last year, 15 have graduated and all nine first-team players have moved on to college.

The only all-county players coming back are Centennial junior hitter Trisha Mockapetris, Glenelg defensive specialist Shannon Long and Hammond libero Maddie Chervenak, who are both seniors.

Centennial coach Larry Schofield, whose team went undefeated in league play last year and fell one game short of winning its second state title in three years and 15th overall, has to move on from graduating the 2009 Player of the Year in Liz Brown and the Sam Brostrom, the 2010 Player of the Year.

River Hill, last year's county runner-up, and Mt. Hebron, the third-place team, were also hit hard. The Hawks graduated first-teamers Sarah Okey, Megan Rosburg and Melody Nazari and the Vikings lost all-county players Tinuke Aderemi-Ibitola, Maddy Birus, Holly Hynson and Katie Huston.

Despite the loss of talent, most county coaches believe the balance of power hasn't shifted tremendously — perennial powers Centennial and River Hill prove the saying "tradition never graduates" and will once again be in the mix for the county championship.

"The rising sophomores are pretty strong across the county," Schofield said. "We lost (some) of the top players in the state, so obviously there will be a drop off, but the balance is better overall."

New players will have a chance to rise to the top this year and some schools that have struggled in the past could be more competitive.

Long Reach, for example, won its first league match on the last day of the regular season last year, but may be positioned for a breakthrough campaign with club veterans Alison Dorsey (79 kills, 35 blocks), Cailin Fredrickson (100 kills) and setter Shelby Fredrickson back on the court.

Marriotts Ridge, which lost in the state tournament last year for the second season in a row, brings back Robin Laux and her 151 kills, the only returning player among the top 10 in that category last year.

And Howard, which finished fourth in the league, brings back sophomore Sydney Biniak, who had 41 blocks as a freshman.

Here is a look at each team as the season begins:

Atholton

2010 record: 3-10 county, 3-12 overall

Coach: Dave Decker, fifth season

Returning starters: four

Top players: Seniors Amanda Goodspeed (MH) and Vashti Burke (L); juniors Naomi Burke (S), Natalie Alper (OH) and McKay Evans (OH).

Scouting report: After winning just three matches last year, the Raiders are looking for a bounce-back campaign more in line with 2008, when they finished 11-6. The return of Vashti Burke, who was sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament last year, should make Atholton a solid defensive team. Rachel Burke, Vashti and Naomi's older sister, led Reservoir to the state finals in 2006. Goodspeed and Evans give the Raiders a pair of six-footers on the front line.

Centennial

2010 record: 13-0, 19-1, county and District V champion, 3A state finalist

Coach: Larry Schofield, fifth season

Returning starters: four

Top players: Senior Anastasia White-Torruellas (RS); juniors Trisha Mockapetris* (OH) and Lexi White-Torruellas (S); sophomores Jessie Link (MH) and Kristin Ritchie (OH); freshman Meghan Kelley (OH).

Scouting report: For all of the talent that they graduated last spring, the Eagles are still a veteran-laden team, returning four starters and eight players with varsity experience. Mockapetris had 110 kills last year and both of her setters, Lexi White-Torruellas (236 assists) and Grace Chao (207), are back. Those two players also combined for 59 aces last year. Still, Brostrom, Brown and middle hitter May Yang were responsible for 472 kills last season, or more than 60 percent of the team's total. The Eagles do not boast great height this season, as Jamie Fabling, at 6-feet, is the tallest player on the roster. Link, who was a late season call-up last year as a freshman, Ritchie and Kelley represent Centennial's future.

Glenelg

2010 record: 5-8, 7-9

Coach: Don Beall, eighth season

Returning starters: four

Top players: Seniors Shannon Long* (DS), Alyson Dillon (OH) and Allie James (DS); junior Cameron Long (S); sophomore Molly Calvert (MH).

Scouting report: Shannon Long was named second-team all-county last year after making a county-best 445 digs. This year, the Gladiators are also counting on a strong contribution from her younger sister at setter. Cameron Long was supposed to be the team's setter last year as a sophomore, but missed the entire season with a knee injury. Freshman Sarah Girard could be used as well in a 6-2, but at the very least Beall thinks she is going to be the setter of the future. Dillon had 186 kills last year, most among returners, and looks even better this year. James, a well-rounded player, had 83 kills, 324 digs and served over 90 percent and will move from hitter to defense while Morgan Perry switches from defense to hitter. Calvert, whose older sister, Paige, was a first-team all-county hitter for Reservoir last year, had 55 blocks as a freshman. Erin Jolotta, a junior up from from junior varsity, will give the Gladiators depth at the middle hitter position.

Hammond

2010 record: 3-10, 5-11

Coach: Ken McLaughlin, 18th season

Returning starters: three

Top players: Seniors Maddie Chervenak* (L), Sarah Newell (MH) and Mikhaila Abarcar (OH).

Scouting report: With a trio of strong seniors, Hammond is one of the most experienced teams in the league. Chervenak was named second-team all-county after recording 221 digs last year and Newell posted a respectable 76 kills and 17 blocks. Four others — seniors Nicole Williams (OH) and Shawnetta King (S), junior Marina Loayza (DS) and sophomore Meagan Hitesman (RS) — played sparingly on varsity last year, but will be relied on as regulars this season. Hammond does not possess great height or overpowering hitting, so they will have to use quickness, defense, passing and serving to win games.

Howard

2010 record: 9-4, 10-5

Coach: Katie Collins, second season

Returning starters: two

Top players: Seniors Kim Moore (MH), Allison Kupiec (OH) and Amanda Kupiec (DS); junior Kristen Flint (RS); sophomore Sydney Biniak (MH).

Scouting report: The tandem of Moore and Biniak gives Howard a net presence as fearful as any team in the league. Biniak, a club volleyball standout, amassed 95 kills and 41 blocks as a freshman. Moore missed part of last season because of injury, but should be ready to go to start this season. The Kupiec sisters are three-year varsity veterans. Sophomores Lizzie Berg (S) and Jamie Carey (OH) will help out this year, with Berg attempting to fill the shoes of the graduated Jennifer Whitacre (325 assists, 156 digs)

Long Reach

2010 record: 1-12, 2-13

Coach: Jacqueline Armstead, fifth season

Returning starters: three

Top players: Senior Alison Dorsey (MH); juniors Cailin Fredrickson (OH) and Shelby Fredrickson (S).

Scouting report: Dorsey, who possesses a rare combination of height and athleticism, and the Fredrickson twins are club-seasoned players who have proven themselves at the varsity level. Last year Cailin Fredrickson recorded 100 kills, while Dorsey had 79 kills and 35 blocks. Those three form the core of the Lightning, but juniors Jessica Dubbs (L) and Jennifer Riling (OH) will also be counted on to contribute this year.

Marriotts Ridge

2010 record: 6-7, 11-8, 2A state finalist

Coach: Amanda Olsen, fourth season

Returning starters: 3

Top players: Seniors Robin Laux, (OH), Samantha Johnson (MH) and Beth Wehr (S).

Scouting report: The team that has made it to the state tournament each of the past two years, including a finals showing last winter, wants to get just a little bit further this year. Laux's 151 kills last year are second among returning players and should be able to cut down on her 79 errors last year with another year of experience. The Mustangs lost all-county setter Meredith Krzys (county-best 352 assists, 135 digs, 29 aces, 96 percent serving), but return her understudy, Beth Wehr (88 assists), who will now become the starter. Laux and Wehr each served 22 aces last season and served around 85 percent. Johnson statistically had one of the best season's among middle hitters last year, amassing 91 kills and 34 blocks. Last year, she formed a strong middle-hitter duo with classmate Hannah Springer, but Springer has moved to Colorado.

Mt. Hebron

2010 record: 11-2, 12-4

Coach: Michael Moynihan, 10th season

Returning starters: two

Top players: Seniors Paige Coolahan (MH) and Shelley Hynson (OH); juniors Morgan Walter (S) and Erin Walter (RS).

Scouting report: No team in the league was hit harder by graduation than the Vikings. Of the five non-seniors on the roster last year, only two of them — Erin Walter (29 kills) and Coolahan (10 blocks) — played regularly. Morgan Walter (62 assists) was used as a back-up setter and serving specialist last year, but she'll be relied on as an everyday player now that all-county setter Maddy Birus has graduated. Still, many coaches around the county expect the Vikings to be a contender for the county crown because of the strong JV and freshman teams at the school, and the constant stream of club players coming up through the system. Mt. Hebron will get some tough early tests, with matches against Fallston, Centennial and River Hill all in the first few weeks.

Oakland Mills

2010 record: 1-12, 3-13

Coach: Dan Tucci, fifth season

Returning starters: four

Top players: Seniors Ceira Thomas (RS), Shannen McKay (OH/MH) and Maria Baran (DS); junior Allison Cable (L/OH).

Scouting report: While she may not play for a powerhouse, volleyball insiders have long known about Cable and her skills. Last year, she served 39 aces and had 127 digs. She is as good of a defensive player as there is in the county, but may also be swinging away a little more on offense this season. Thomas played setter on last year's team, but will now be a right-side hitter. McKay is also back to give the Scorpions a presence in the middle. Sophomore Heidi Larsen (S) came up for the playoff run last year and will take over as the team's setter. A junior, Daria Hypolite (OH), is also new to the varsity and played club volleyball this offseason.

Reservoir

2010 record: 8-5, 10-6

Coach: Carole Ferrante, sixth season

Returning starters: two

Top players: Seniors Amanda Gross (L), Kelsea Belt (MH) and Rachel Smith (OH); junior Iulia Tath (S).

Scouting report: The Gators graduated a pair of all-county players in Paige Calvert (73 kills, 29 blocks) and Victoria Edwards (201 digs), but they shouldn't fall too far because of their always-strong feeder system. Gross would have been one of the best liberos in the league last year if she hadn't been hidden behind Edwards. Belt gives Reservoir a dynamic 6-footer in the middle who can also serve with the best. Smith gained some varsity experience last year and also has a tantalizing combination of height and athelticism. Tath, who has plenty of experience setting in a 5-1 with her club team, will be the floor general.

River Hill

2010 record: 12-1, 15-2, 3A East regional finalist

Coach: Lynn Paynter, second season

Returning starters: three

Top players: Seniors Marta Roman (RS), Kristin Lee (OH), Caitlin Davis (S) and Kelly Davis (OH); junior Cassidy Davis (MH).

Scouting report: There's no easy way to replace the 500 kills, 300 digs and 100 aces that Sarah Okey, Megan Rosburg and Melody Nazari combined for last year. But like Centennial, River Hill always seems to reload rather than rebuild. The three Davis sisters will be counted on more than ever to fill vital roles in the Hawks' line-up. Caitlin set in a 6-2 offense last year, while Cassidy saw regular playing time as only a sophomore. Kelly Davis, Marta Roman and Kristin Lee should see more opportunities to contribute on offense.

Wilde Lake

2010 record: 6-7, 7-8

Coach: Caitlin Williams, fourth season

Returning starters: four

Top players: Senior Azita Nejaddehghan (DS); juniors Michaela Tummings (MH/RS) and Krista Pecenka (OH/RS); freshman Kelly Surkovich (OH).

Scouting report: Tummings may only be about 5-foot-9, but she can jump higher and hit harder than just about anybody in the league. Nejaddehghan, the team captain, will try to pick up the slack on defense left by the graduation of Jessica Turner who was one of the best liberos in the league over the past four seasons. Pecenka has been the captain of both the freshman and junior varsity teams at Wilde Lake before finally moving up to varsity late last season. Surkovich has skipped right past the freshman and JV team's to crack the varsity lineup and looks like she could be a player to build around for years to come.

Chapelgate Christian

2010 record: 3-8, 5-9

Coach: Chris Moxley, 16th season

Returning starters: three

Top players: Seniors Amy Trageser (S) and Amanda Hammett (MH); junior Clara Sevy (OH); freshman Julia del Carman (OH).

Scouting report: After winning only three matches in the MIAA A Conference each of the past two years, the Yellowjackets hope to get back on track in 2011. Trageser, who already has experience as a varsity setter on her side, and Hammett, a skilled blocker, give Chapelgate a pair of strong senior leaders. Sevy, meanwhile, is expected to step up to become the team's top offensive threat. Del Carman brings some much needed club experience to the team and should be able to step in and immediately improve the offense.

Glenelg Country

2010 record: 3-9, 3-10

Coach: Dominique D'Amico, second season

Returning starters: three

Top players: Senior Lauren Dawson (S); sophomore Cecilia Narrett (OH); freshman Sydney Hines (S).

Scouting report: The Dragons will look to have a bounce back campaign with Dawson, a two-time MIAA C Conference All-Star who can play any position on the court, as the team's backbone. Dawson was a team captain as a junior, averaged 10 kills per match as setter and served 92 percent. Aside from Dawson, Glenelg Country will be very young. Hines will join Dawson in a 6-2 offense and Narrett will be the team's top hitter. Freshmen Kendra Isaacs (DS) and Alexis Foxwell (OH) will also be looked at to contribute in their rookie season.

* Returning second-team all-county player.

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