Player of the Year: Julie Hollrah, Glenelg
Hollrah is the third Gladiator in the past 10 years named Player of the Year by The Sun, and in each case the player led her team to a state title.
This season, Hollrah led second-ranked Glenelg to the Class 2A state championship in four games over nemesis and No. 3-ranked Liberty. The Lions had prevented the Gladiators from repeating in 2003 by taking a five-game match on the way to back-to-back titles.
Hollrah, a 5-foot-10 senior, was determined to avenge that loss, and delivered a match-high 18 kills to end Liberty's run. Glenelg won its first state crown since 2002 and its fourth overall. In the semifinals, Hollrah had 12 kills to give her 30 in the final two matches.
Hollrah, a complete player with a confidence that rubs off on her teammates, led the Gladiators in kills and digs while finishing third at the service line.
With 261 kills, Hollrah averaged 3.5 kills in 75 games and led the metro area in digs with 419. Her digs-per-game average of 5.6 was second to All-Metro hitter Kelsey Lisle of Seton Keough's 5.8.
Hollrah made 312 of 335 serve attempts for a .931 percentage for Glenelg (18-3). She is undecided on a college.
Coach of the Year: Mike Bossom, Centennial
In leading the Eagles to a repeat Class 3A state championship for the school's state-record 12th title (tied with Williamsport), Bossom notched his eighth crown in 12 seasons.
Centennial went 19-1 and is 39-1 over the past two seasons. The Eagles were ranked No. 1 by The Sun for the first time since 2000 and the seventh time in Bossom's career (216-21, .911).
Bossom, who also was named Coach of the Year in 1997, has the most state volleyball titles for a coach in the 30 years of the Maryland tournament.
Stephanie Carey, Broadneck
Carey capped a stellar four-year career with a metro-area-leading 9.9 assists per game, including a school-record 49 in one match, and 10 per game over her past two seasons. The 5-foot-6 senior was the Bruins' leader over the final two of her three seasons as a starter. The Anne Arundel County Player of the Year played a major role in the Bruins' four consecutive trips to the state tournament and championships in 2002 and 2004. Carey, who has exceptional court sense and knowledge, served 98 percent and had 57 aces, 68 digs and 54 blocks.
Michelle Grosso, Centennial
The repeat Class 3A state champion Eagles' most consistent player, Grosso had a knack for playing her best in big matches. Grosso, a junior who averaged 2.2 kills per game with her strength, vertical leap and smooth release, had nine kills and two blocks in each of the Eagles' wins in the state tournament, as they swept North Carroll in the semifinals and Huntingtown in the final. In a 3-1 victory over Atholton to clinch a berth in the Howard County final, Grosso had 10 kills, and she followed it up with 15 kills as the Eagles repeated as county champions by 3-1 over Glenelg. The 5-foot-11 middle-hitter also served 92 percent.
Kelsey Lisle, Seton Keough
The Baltimore City Player of the Year dominated matches with her power and all-around play, and led the metro area in kills and digs. Lisle, a 5-foot-11 junior who hit 55 percent and had 321 kills in 62 games for an average of 5.2 per game, raised her play to another level this season after averaging 4.1 kills and serving 41 aces as a sophomore. She jumped to 111 aces this season while serving 92 percent (262-for-282). Defensively, her 5.8 digs per game edged Gleneg's Julie Hollrah for the metro-area lead. In addition, Lisle had 29 blocks.
Abbie Merkl, Archbishop Spalding
The 6-foot-1 senior's power-hitting led the No. 14 Cavaliers to a school record for wins (16-4). Named to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference All-Star team a third straight season, Merkl averaged 4.4 kills (second-best in the metro area) in 70 games. Merkl, who hopes to follow in the footsteps of an older brother and sister by attending a service academy, can break down defenses with power or a well-placed tip. The first Spalding volleyball player ever named first-team All-Metro, Merkl served 89 percent (235-for-264), led the Cavaliers in aces (44) and blocks (41) and was second in digs and passing.
Marah Schmitz, Dulaney
Schmitz was a strong presence on the outside and earned Baltimore County Player of the Year honors after leading the No. 5 Lions to their first county championship game since 2001 and first Class 4A state final since 2000 . Schmitz, a 5-foot-7 junior, averaged 2.7 kills per game and 68 aces with a wicked jump serve, while doing her share on defense with 185 digs, three per game. After leading the Lions to the county championship by 3-1 over No. 6 Towson with 12 kills, Schmitz had 13 kills in the regional final and 19 kills in the state tournament, including a match-high 12 in a state-final loss to Gaithersburg.
Brooke Winterling, Glenelg
One of the hardest hitters in the metro area, the 5-foot-10 senior gave the No. 2 Gladiators a 1-2 punch in the front row that led to the school's fourth state title. Winterling averaged 3.2 kills per game with 243 in 75 games. In the Class 2A state final, Winterling had 14 kills and four blocks as Glenelg downed No. 3 Liberty, 3-1, to avenge its loss to the Lions in the 2003 final. With 262 of 279 serving attempts made, Winterling's .940 serving percentage was second to her sophomore sister Amber's 95 percent. Brooke also was second in digs with 390 in 75 games for an average of 5.2 per match.
Ashlee Allen Severna Park, senior, hitter
Melissa Axtell South Carroll, senior, hitter
Blake Hargest St. Paul's, senior, hitter/setter
Stephanie Sharp Atholton, senior, hitter
Kanishia SheppardBroadneck, senior, hitter
Melissa Stansbury Liberty, junior, hitter
Jen Feldmann Centennial, senior, setter
Allison Gittings Glenelg, senior, setter
Note: Teams selected by Pat O'Malley after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.