IT'S WIDE OPEN FOR VOLLEYBALL TEAMS

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Broadneck volleyball coach Glenn Brainer won't soon forget his season-ending loss to Glen Burnie in last year's Class 4A Region IV title match.

His Bruins trailed, 4-0, when 6-foot-2 hitter Theresa Cornish, then his best player, suffered a chin laceration and left the game permanently.

Yet despite having no player on the court who stood above 5-8, the Bruins overcame deficits of 7-0 and 14-9, with off-speed hitting, cross-court dinks and by matching the taller Gophers power-to-power for a 19-17 victory.

Although Glen Burnie stormed back to win the overall match, 3-1, en route to an 18-0 state championship season, the loss ended the Gophers' unbeaten streak at 45 games and the Bruins proved they could play without their biggest starter.

Cornish will not be returning to Broadneck this year for her senior season -- she and her family moved out of state in late July -- but the Bruins return almost everyone else from last year's 12-3 squad.

"There's more team unity than ever," Brainer said. Last year, Cornish was the only returning player from a squad that had graduated 10 seniors.

Senior setter Nikki St. Claire, Broadneck's top returning player, will quarterback a patient Bruins' counterattack that can dig with the best of them. St. Claire missed two weeks of last season with a shoulder injury -- including the regular-season loss to Severna Park. But she returned for the last few matches and the first-round playoff victory over the Falcons.

She'll get support from senior setter Jen Tozzi and junior hitters Julie Scott and Jen Rapczysnski, each of whom stands 5-foot-9. Junior Andrea Henry and sophomore Julie Barr both are 5-10, and freshman Katie Forthofer is 5-11.

Junior Amy McCellan is a fine defensive player, and Nikki's younger sister, sophomore Chrissie, and another sophomore, Brandy Martin, add depth.

"We've been fortunate never to have an all-senior team, so we've got balance and potential for good teams over the next four years," said Brainer, who enjoyed his best turnout, 35 players. "The girls have been in second place in the region for the past two years, so they're ready to make some kind of move."

But so are several other county teams, includingperennial power Severna Park and perennial contenders Old Mill and Chesapeake.

Confidence will be a big factor for Tim Dunbar's Severna Park team.

The Falcons were 11-0 with a regular-season 87-match winning streak before being downed in three straight games by Glen Burnie.

A subsequent victory over Old Mill was followed by a 3-2 upset loss to Chesapeake in the regular-season finale, as the Falcons failed to win their seventh county title since 1985. The Falcons (12-3), winners of four regional titles since 1985, were eliminated by Broadneck in the first round of the playoffs.

The five returning starters from last year's squad are senior Cassandra Melton (5-7, hitter),juniors Jamie Pirotte (5-7, setter), Kate Marks (5-10, outside hitter) and Catherine Kirk (5-11, middle hitter), and sophomore Jen Conner(5-9, outside hitter).

Conner is recovering from a broken left arm.

"Everyone except (graduate) Kim Aller is back, so we have a lotof depth. That's nine players, but it's like a double-edged sword," Dunbar said. "They were all part of the team that just fell apart, and the key is which team is going to show up. There's a lot of potential on this team, probably more than on any team I've ever coached, but they were badly shaken after last year."

Chesapeake coach Kathy Kubic has been using her Cougars' upset of Severna Park -- their lastgame of 1990 -- as a motivator for this season. So far, it's working.

"We had 60 girls try out for the team. That's more than I've hadhere," said Kubic, in her fourth season. She returns six seniors andthree starters from last year's 8-7 squad. "This team is scrappy -- they go after everything."

The Cougars will be led by senior captain Michelle League, Stacy Ogle and Laura Sutton, each of whom stands 5-8. Junior Joyce Smith, a transfer from Frederick, is a pleasant surprise. She joins seniors Amy Nuenschwander, Kristin Spak and Valerie McBee in the Cougars' 6-2 format.

Old Mill coach Pattie DeMarco isoptimistic despite losing four starters to graduation and a fifth --star senior Jen Schmittle, who is opting to concentrate on a promising softball career instead of playing volleyball.

DeMarco still has the county's tallest front line, with 5-10 senior Ashley Sins, a couple of 6-foot juniors in Anne Chicorelli and Debbie Dawson, and 5-10junior Allison Wentworth.

Glen Burnie took just 45 minutes to dispose of Old Mill's 10-5 squad in the first round of the playoffs lastyear, a fact that will linger with players like Dawson, Chicorelli, Wentworth, Chris Baer and Lee Ann Lezzer, members of the Patriots' state championship basketball team last spring.

Baer, a junior 5-8 hitter/setter, returns for her third varsity season. Back for their second varsity seasons are setter Lezzer and hitter Amy Reusing, also juniors.

Juniors Tracy Kaszuba, Pam Fairall and sophomores Christine Zellers and Andrea Melosick are up from a junior varsity squad thatlost just two games.

"One thing that will help us is that we had a lot of young players on the varsity last year. The team chemistry has been great, so I'm looking forward to this season," DeMarco said. "I'm pretty sure we can make the playoffs."

Glen Burnie might havea problem doing that.

Having graduated the entire starting lineup, including Stacey Gilligan, a two-time All-County and two-time All-Metro player now at Pittsburgh's Duquesne University, Coach Juanita Murdock-Milani is in a rebuilding process as she enters her 14th season.

"We have two kids back from last year's team -- Kelly Miller andMelodie MacKennon," said Murdock-Milani, the 1990 Anne Arundel County Sun Coach of the Year who brings a 131-58 career record into this season.

Miller was limited to seven games as a part-time starter last year because of a broken arm. She's healthy now and ready to lead the Gophers. MacKennon takes over at the setter slot vacated by Christy Hutson (now at Towson State University).

The other starters from a year ago, Linda Fannin (Catonsville Community College), Melanie Scharf, Melanie Ackerman and Mandy Albrecht -- all at UMBC -- are beginning their college careers in either volleyball or softball.

Lastyear, Murdock-Milani won her first county and state titles since shebegan coaching in 1978.

With their 16-14, 15-9, 15-6 state championship game victory over top-seeded Oxon Hill (17-1), the Gophers completed an unbeaten season in which they won 54 of 55 games. Glen Burnie had finished as the county runner-up twice in a row.

"This program has developed some continuity. We haven't had a losing season in the last 10 years, and we had 33 kids try out this year. This is the first time I've had to make cuts," Murdock-Milani said. "We're not going to be last year's team, but we're not going to roll over and playdead either. The girls know what they're up against."

Dunbar called Arundel "a sleeper."

From last year's 6-9 squad, the Wildcats return five starters -- seniors Mary Pat Fannon, Hae Young Park and Erin Fisher and juniors Tracy Koenig and Kathy Brady. In addition, Coach Lee Rogers has promoted 12 players from last year's 7-7 junior varsity squad.

"Our record didn't indicate how well we played. We had a lot of close games," said Rogers, who had a turnout of 24 players. "We're ahead of where we were at this point last year, and we should be very competitive."

1991 VARSITY VOLLEYBALL SCHEDULE

Annapolis

Sept. 11 McDonough .. ..A .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 17 Northern .. .. A.. 5:30 p.m.

.. .. 20 Severna Park ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 Arundel .. .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Glen Burnie .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Queen Anne's ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 South River .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Old Mill .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Broadneck .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Southern .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Friendly .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Chesapeake .. .A .. 6:00 p.m.

.. .. 29 North County ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Northeast .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

Archbishop Spalding

Sept. 11 Seton Keough ..H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 17 North County ..H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 19 Mercy .. .... A .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 23 Catholic .. .. H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. ..27 Mt. Carmel .. .A .. 3:45 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Seton Keough ..A .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. .8 Mt. Carmel .. .H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 10 Mercy .... .. H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 15 Catholic .. .. A .. 3:45 p.m.

Arundel

Sept. .6 Wilde Lake .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Hammonds .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 13 Seton-Keough ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 17 Frederick .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 20 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 21 Glen Bur. Tour. A . 8:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 South River .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Old Mill .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Broadneck .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Southern .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 10 Woodlawn .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Chesapeake .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 North County ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Northeast .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Severna Park ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Glen Burnie .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Queen Anne's ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

Broadneck

Sept. 12 Northern .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24Severna Park ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Perry Hall .. .H .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 27 Northeast .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Meade .. .... A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Arundel .. .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. ...8 Queen Anne's ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 South River .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Glen Burnie .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Southern .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.... 25 Old Mill .. .. H .. 5:00 p.m.

.. .. 29 Chesapeake .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 North County ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Chesapeake

Sept. 13 Great Mills .. H .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 20 Old Mill .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 23 LaPlata .. .. .H .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 24 Glen Burnie .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 McDonough .. ..H .. 4:00 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Severna Park ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 North County ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Northeast .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Meade .. .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Arundel .. .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Queen Anne's ..H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 22 South River .. A .. 4:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Broadneck .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Southern .. .. A .. 3:30p.m.

Glen Burnie

Sept. 20 Southern .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 21 Glen Bur. Tour. H . 8:30 a.m.

.. .. 24 Chesapeake .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Queen Anne's ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Mercy .. .. .. H .3:3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 North County ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Severna Park ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 South River .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Broadneck .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Old Mill .. .. A .. 5:00 p.m.

.. .. 25 Northeast .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Arundel .. .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Meade

Sept. 13 Woodlawn .. .. H .. 7:30 p.m.

.. .. 17 Atholton .. .. H .. 3:30 a.m.

.. .. 20 Arundel .. .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 21 Glen Bur. Tour. A . 8:30 a.m.

.. .. 24 Queen Anne's ..H .. 3:30 a.m.

.. .. 27 Annapolis .. ..A .. 3:30 a.m.

Oct. ..1 Broadneck .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 South River .. A .3:3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Old Mill .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Chesapeake .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Southern .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Severna Park..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 North County ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Northeast .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Glen Burnie .. A .. 3:30p.m.

North County

Sept. 17 Spalding .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.... 19 South River .. H .. 3:30 a.m.

.. .. 24 Old Mill .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Southern .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..4 Chesapeake .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Glen Burnie .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Northeast .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Severna Park ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Arundel .. .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Queen Anne's ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Annapolis .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 31 Woodlawn .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Broadneck .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

Northeast

Sept. 13 Sparrows Point A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 20 Queen Anne's ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 South River .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Broadneck .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Southern .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Old Mill .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Chesapeake.. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 North County ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Severna Park ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Arundel .. .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Glen Burnie .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Meade .. .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 31 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Old Mill

Sept. 10 Frederick .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 13 McDonough .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 20 Chesapeake .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 North County ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Severna Park ..A ..3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Arundel ... .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Northeast .. ..A .3:3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Meade .. .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Queen Anne's ..A.. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 South River .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Glen Burnie .. H .. 5:00 p.m.

.. .. 25 Broadneck .. ..A .. 5:00 p.m.

.. .. 29 Southern .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Severna Park

Sept. 12 Atholton .. .. H .. 3:30p.m.

.. .. 16 Bowie .. .. .. A .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 19 Laurel .... ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 20 Annapolis .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 Broadneck .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 Old Mill .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Chesapeake .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Southern .. .. H .3:3:30 p.m.

.. .. .9 E. Roosevelt ..H .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 11 Glen Burnie .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 North County ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 18 Northeast .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 Arundel .. .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Queen Anne's ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 South River .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

Southern

Sept. 13 Calvert .. .. .A .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 17 Surrattsville .A .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. 20 Glen Burnie .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 24 Surrattsville .H .. 3:45 p.m.

.. .. 27 North County ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 27 McDonough .. ..H .. 4:00 p.m.

Oct. ..1 Northeast .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .4 Severna Park..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .8 Arundel .. .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 11 Queen Anne's ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 15 Meade .. .. .. H .. 3:30p.m.

.. .. 18 Annapolis .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 22 Broadneck.. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 25 South River .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. 29 Old Mill .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. ..1 Chesapeake .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

South River

Sept. ..7 Friendly .. ..A .. 4:00 p.m.

.. .. .19 North County .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .21 Glen Bur. Tour. A.8:30 a.m.

.. .. .24 Northeast .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .27 Arundel .. .. A .. 3:30 p.m.

Oct. .. 1 Queen Anne's .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. ..4 Meade .. .. ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. ..8 Annapolis .. .A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .11 Broadneck .. .H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .15Glen Burnie ..H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .18 Old Mill .. ..A .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .22 Chesapeake .. H .. 3:30 p.m.

.. .. .25 Southern ....A .. 3:30 p.m.

Nov. .. 1 Severna Park .H .. 3:30 p.m.

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