C. Milton Wright's girls volleyball team, often a contender but never a county champion in past seasons, took care of that when it sailed through a 14-game regular season undefeated.
For that feat, Mustangs coach Bonnie Fry has been named The Baltimore Sun's Harford County Girls Volleyball Coach of the Year.
The foundation for this effort was set last year when the Mustangs finished second to perennial county champion Bel Air in the final standings. The outcome was determined in a five-game match decided 16-14. Later, Wright lost in the first round of the regional tournament.
"We lost only one player from that team, so I knew we'd be good," Fry said before starting her 11th season as head coach.
Then, the team got additional help from two new, but experienced, players, Lissa Leiter, a transfer student, and Christine Kiebe, a foreign exchange student.
Fry began getting interested in this season almost as soon as the last one ended.
Then, during the summer, "I went to some camps and talked with coaches about adding some tougher drills that would complement the players' skill level," she said. "Early in the season, we beat Westminster and North East without really extending ourselves, and these were two teams we had had trouble with in the past.
"Our first match with Bel Air was the one that counted in the standings, and, realistically, it meant everything to us. The players had their hearts set on winning that one, and if they had lost, they would have been devastated."
As it developed, Fry said she thought this triumph helped in matches with Elkton and a second meeting with Bel Air (a 3-0 sweep). The experience was a telling factor when the team defeated Randallstown in the regionals. It was Fry's ninth regional trip, and marked the school's first triumph at that level.
Against Catonsville in the regionals, it was a different scene.
"We didn't believe we could win, and I had not seen that in my players before," Fry said of the three-game sweep. "We were nervous and it showed. If we had played the game at home, it might have been different."