In the last of a roller-coaster five-game regional semifinal playoff against Smithsburg, Francis Scott Key coach Leo Totten urged his senior-laden team on by reminding it how hard it had worked during the past four years to get to that point.
On a number of occasions that night, the Eagles easily could have folded and been satisfied with being the first team in Key history to reach double-figures in wins (10) during the regular season -- but instead they prevailed.
There wasn't a coach in the county who got more out of his or her players than Totten. For his leadership and the Eagles' 11-6 season, Totten has been chosen as The Baltimore Sun's Volleyball Coach of the Year in Carroll County.
Totten came along the same time as this year's senior class did. He was in his first year as junior varsity coach when they were freshman.
Then-varsity coach Tom Hill told Totten not to expect too much from his young junior varsity squad that first year with the Eagles, competing in a tough Monocacy Valley Athletic League. "Maybe three or four wins," Totten remembers Hill saying.
They finished the season at 8-7 and then followed with a 13-2 record as sophomores. When the players moved to the varsity in their junior years, so did Totten. "We grew up together," Totten said. "The kids made it easy for me. It was just a great group to work with."
There were three Smiths -- Shelley, Tina and junior Amber (none related) -- and Jenny Baker, Shelly Black, Kristi Stambaugh, Damien Overholzer, Christy Boesler and Aslynn Hinkle who played major roles in the team's success this year.
Totten is the kind of coach who would much rather see his players get all the credit, but it all started with his guidance and coaching.
Simply put, his players enjoy playing and winning for him.