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Rachel Horton spikes the ball during vollyball camp at Stevenson University on Monday.
Rachel Horton spikes the ball during vollyball camp at Stevenson University on Monday. (KEN KOONSSTAFF PHOTO / Carroll County Times)

Since taking over as the Liberty High School volleyball coach nearly 20 years ago, Dave Trumbo has introduced the sport to hundreds of prospective players.

In 1996, he started the Liberty Volleyball Camp at Liberty Christian School. Several of his campers played for Liberty High during the Lions' march to nine Carroll County championships and consecutive Class 2A state titles in 2003 and 2004.

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Trumbo left Liberty High following the 2006 season to become the head coach of the Stevenson University women's volleyball program. Shortly after arriving at Stevenson, Trumbo expanded the game again when he started the "Spike It" Volleyball Camp, which is designed for high school players and experienced club players who are entering the eighth and ninth grades.

"We have done the Liberty Volleyball Camp for middle-schoolers and older elementary kids for 19 years," said Trumbo, an Eldersburg resident who is also the head coach of Stevenson's fledgling beach volleyball program. "But when I came to Stevenson, the first thing I wanted to do was start a camp. I thought it was a great recruiting opportunity, and would give kids a chance to see our gym and meet our staff and players."

Trumbo has built Stevenson into a national power, guiding the Mustangs to four consecutive NCAA Division III tournament appearances. His Stevenson teams have won 215 games in eight seasons, and are the three-time defending Commonwealth Conference champions.

"The level of play has gotten higher and higher each year," said Trumbo, a two-time conference Coach of the Year at Stevenson. "We have some kids that are going into eighth grade who are pretty accomplished, and the kids are starting to play club ball at a younger age."

The 2015 "Spike It" camp has attracted participants from as far away as Florida and California, but most of the campers are local players. Thirty of the 54 participants in the current session, which runs through July 31 at Stevenson's Owings Mills Gymnasium, hail from Carroll County.

Shannon Lilly, a rising senior who plays for Century, has been a Stevenson camper for the last three years.

"You learn the fundamental skills that will help you," Lilly said. "You would think that if you were a hitter, you should focus on the hitting skills. But they also teach you a lot about how important passing and defense is. I've become a better player, and learned how to play smart."

The camp's coaching staff includes former Winters Mill standout and three-time Stevenson All-American Jessica Gieselman and South Carroll graduate Lauren Weaver. Gieselman and Weaver both attended "Spike It" as youngsters, and are now on the other side of the learning grid as camp counselors.

"Watching high school players that I've coached before (in youth volleyball), and seeing them turn into young adults who are ready to go off to college, is very rewarding," said Gieselman, a 2014 Stevenson graduate who is now an elementary school teacher in Howard County. "I feel like the instruction that I got as a camper was very helpful when I went to play for my high school teams. Working with (Stevenson assistant coach) Brent Whitehead motivated me to know more about setting, so that I could start when I got to Stevenson."

Weaver, now a rising sophomore at Stevenson, is still adjusting to her new role as a camp counselor.

"It's a change of pace, because I am giving advice and not playing as much," said Weaver, who lives in Mt. Airy. "It's weird giving advice to girls who are so close to me in age. But working the camp is fun, because all of the counselors are positive. It's competitive, but not in a cutthroat way."

Two of Dave Trumbo's children have also worked on the camp staff. His daughter, Becky Groves, coached the 2011 Century volleyball team to the Class 2A state title. Bryan Trumbo, the former head coach at Liberty High, now leads the program for the Knights.

"Every year, there's new campers with new skill sets," said Bryan Trumbo, who resides in Sykesville and is a counselor at the 2015 camps. "It's exciting to see where a camper is at the beginning of the week, and where we see them at the end. At this camp, they learn so much about the game, not just skills but also strategy and how to move on the court."

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