1994 record: 0-15. Coach: Karla McMahon (fifth year).
Top players: Bridgid Duffy, Sr., outside hitter; Kammi Cottrell, Soph., middle blocker; Emily Danmeyer, Soph., middle blocker; Jenni Ferris, Soph., setter.
Outlook: All the starters return from an 0-15 team that lacked cohesiveness last season. McMahon saw some improvement in her team's ability to work together in the season opener against Westminster last week, enabling the Panthers to take the Owls to five games before losing the match. There just aren't a lot of highly skilled volleyball players for McMahon to work with but she is hoping that will change soon. "Kids just don't grow up playing volleyball around here," she said. "But a few youth leagues are starting up in the Annapolis area." Even though all six starters are back, Annapolis is still a young squad with three sophomores among the top six.
Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers
1994 record: 10-4. Coach: Linda Taylor (eighth year).
Top players: Crystal Henderson, Sr., outside hitter; Crystal Ray, Sr., outside hitter; Kathleen O'Hara, Sr., setter; Sandy Sandifer, Jr., outside hitter.
Outlook: There are good vibes coming out of the Cavaliers' camp even though the team went 1-1 in its first two matches. "I expect us to take the [Catholic] league championship," said Taylor whose team finished second to Mercy last year. "This team has the capability to do real well this season. We have a lot of confidence and it showed when we beat Chesapeake in four games. Our girls woke up after we lost to North County in the opener. We were nervous in that match." Hitting is the strong point, and the primary weakness is passing. Taylor said her players are learning to communicate on the court and are helped by being above average in height. Henderson is the big leaper on a talented squad that has exceptional skills due to attendance at camps and playing club volleyball.
1994 record: 8-10. Coach: Lee Rogers (seventh year).
Top players: Shauna Gooding, Sr., setter; Jen Mottar, Sr., outside hitter; Chavonne Hammond, Sr., middle blocker; Michelle Akers, Jr., outside hitter; Jana Boddy, Jr., setter; Heather Adams, Jr., setter; Kady House, Jr., outside hitter.
Outlook: The Wildcats have fallen on tough times in recent years after some outstanding seasons the first two years Rogers coached the team. They just don't get enough players that go to summer camps or have a chance to participate in youth leagues. "I try to encourage our girls to go to the county Parks and Recreation summer camps but they don't want to go," said Rogers. "We need that kind of extra work on skills to keep pace with the Severna Parks, Glen Burnies and Broadnecks. Right now we do the best we can with what we have." In the early going this season, the serving has been consistent but the passing and hitting have been problems. "We need to be more offensive conscious," said Rogers. "Hopefully our hitting will come around. I know we can play better." One major positive point for the team is the intense desire by the three basketball players on the squad (Gooding, Mottar and Hammond) to win. "Everybody hates to lose but our basketball players just seem to want to win a little more," said Rogers.
1994 record: 12-2. Coach: Krista Rohrer (first year).
Top players: Kara Johnson, Sr., setter; Erin Pinnix, Sr., outside hitter; Amy VanDehei, Jr., outside hitter; Pam Barr, Jr., outside hitter; Laura Keyes, Sr., middle blocker.
Outlook: Rohrer doesn't seem a bit fazed to be following a successful Tom Cole as head coach of the Bruins. Year in and year out, Broadneck has been one of the top teams in the county under Cole who stopped coaching to follow the progress of his ninth-grade daughter who is playing soccer. The Bruins have become known as giant-killers, twice ending long Severna Park county-match winning streaks with victories. Last season, Broadneck halted a 58-match string by the Falcons, and in 1990 the 3A school broke an 88-match streak. When Rohrer was asked what concerned her about the Bruins this season, she said: "Nothing. I look for us to have an outstanding season. My girls are all psyched and ready to play. My team captain [Johnson] keeps us pumped up."
1994 record: 12-5. Coach: Melissa Preston (first year).
Top players: Michelle Horn, Sr., outside hitter; Gail Siemer, Soph., middle blocker; Renata Freburger, Jr., outside hitter.
Outlook: Preston, who was a volleyball defensive specialist at UMBC last season, said the biggest adjustment for the Cougars
will be to her coaching style. "My big thing is passing with a purpose," she said. "We have a lot of little things to work on and we need to improve our serving consistency." The Chesapeake players have been serving an ace or hitting the ball into the net, according to Preston who watched her squad lose to North County in five games in the season opener Monday. The Cougars will not be fancy on offense until they adjust to Preston's coaching. "We won't have a lot of quick sets and hitter switches for a while," she said. "But we'll get there." Preston has been impressed with the versatility of Horn, the quick learning of Siemer and the quickness of Freburger.
Glen Burnie Gophers
1994 record: 14-2. Coach: Juanita Milani (18th year).
Top players: Amy Hutson, Jr., outside hitter; Stacey Ellenberger, Sr., outside hitter; Amanda Farlow, Sr., middle blocker; Monica Whitaker, Sr., outside hitter; Chrissy Baldwin, Sr., outside hitter.
Outlook: Heather Hutson, the team's top setter and hitter last season, is gone and will start at Towson State this season. Hutson played a major role in Glen Burnie's upset victory over Severna Park in the county championship match last season, a win that enabled the Gophers to finish third in the final Baltimore Sun poll. Most of the other starters have departed, leaving Glen Burnie with primarily a young and inexperienced team. Amy Hutson and Ellenberger are the only experienced players remaining, prompting Milani to say "My team isn't what it has been." Milani believes Severna Park will return to its usual position as county champions with a wide-open battle to determine who is the second-best team in the county. Milani insisted she isn't purposely downplaying her team for the sake of taking pressure off her players. "Last year I made no bones about it, that us and Severna Park were the top two teams," she said. "And I would say it again if it were true."
1994 record: 5-10. Coach: Vicki Hedgebeth (seventh year).
Top players: Nicole Burke, Sr., outside hitter; Aisha Strohlman, Sr., outside hitter; Susan Fink, Sr., setter; Micah Tull, Sr., outside hitter; Tomorrow Hather, Sr., outside hitter; Jennifer Pittman, Sr., outside hitter; Melissa Repass, Sr., outside hitter.
Outlook: Eight players return from last season and seven of them are seniors who have impressed the coaching staff with their outstanding attitude. "We have a more positive group of ladies this season," said assistant coach Joyce Wells. "We're expecting to win the North Division with good defense and experience." To capture the North title, the Mustangs would have to finish ahead of defending county champion Glen Burnie and always-strong Chesapeake. That would be quite an upset. Wells said the main concern right now is to improve the team's serving consistency. She said it is quite unusual to have so many players returning to a school that loses an average of two players a year due to military parents who are transferred from Fort Meade.
North County Knights
1994 record: 5-7. Coach: Amy Williams (fifth year).
Top players: Jessica Gibson, Sr., outside hitter; Kim Hoyle, Sr., outside hitter; Mandy Knicka, Soph., middle blocker; Melanie Scheckles, Sr., setter.
Outlook: The Knights are off to a 2-0 start and look as if they might make Williams look like a pretty good prognosticator. Before the season began, Williams said: "If we play like we're capable of, we will surprise people." North County has beaten Spalding and Chesapeake behind some excellent hitting and confident play. "We felt like we were going to beat Spalding and we did it," Williams said. "We are a better hitting team than I anticipated." Three of the top four players have participated in club level volleyball, a fact that is crucial to the success of any high school volleyball team. The Knights could move into the same class with Glen Burnie or Broadneck if they can continue to entice prospective players to play club ball or go to summer camps. Catching Severna Park is a different story. The Falcons are still in a class by themselves in the county, said Williams.
1994 record: 13-7. Coach: Otis Long (second year).
Top players: Andrea Williams, Sr., outside hitter; Melissa Veseal, Sr., outside hitter; Erin Czako, Jr., setter; Julie Iverson, Soph., outside hitter.
Outlook: Don't expect any more 13-7 seasons for a while, said Long. The Eagles beat South River twice (once in 2A East Region semifinals) and Arundel last season, but have lost seven players from that outstanding team, including premier setter Kelly Siemek. Williams, an All-County selection last year, will be counted on heavily to lead an inexperienced team. Long is
emphasizing defense, serving and fundamentals and it paid off in a season-opening victory over Patapsco. The Eagles had 22 aces. "You don't get any points when you hit the ball in the net," said Long. He realizes he has a major task ahead of him. "We've traditionally been near the bottom in volleyball in the county because most of our youngsters come from low-income families and can't afford to go to camps," he said.
Old Mill Patriots
1994 record: 8-7. Coach: Jan Arnold (second year).
Top players: Cathy Porter, Sr., outside hitter; Holly Shaffer, Sr., middle blocker; Kristin Servinsky, Jr., setter/outside hitter; Asti Spinelli, Sr., setter.
Outlook: The Patriots are experienced, with three-year starters Shaffer and Porter among eight seniors returning. They took Dulaney to five games before losing the season opener, being hurt primarily by mental errors. But Arnold was impressed by the hustle her players showed and their overall performance in most phases of the game. She believes Old Mill is on the way up after experiencing good and bad years in the past. "We're building up a reputation," said Arnold. "We have kids playing club ball and going to camps. I think we can challenge Severna Park and Glen Burnie. Severna Park had 57 kids out for volleyball and we had 28." Arnold is working on improving team unity as she prepares to tackle a tough schedule that includes defending 4A champion Northern of Calvert County and all the top Anne Arundel schools. Other outstanding seniors on the team are outside hitters Lisa Pitocco and Sabrina Sims.
Severna Park Falcons
1994 record: 20-4. Coach: Tim Dunbar (ninth year).
Top players: Julie Allen, Sr., outside hitter; Lauren Butler, Sr., outside hitter; Danielle Kaegel, Jr., setter; Rachel Benton, Jr., outside hitter; Jennifer Holmes, Sr., outside hitter.
Outlook: Their pride hurt a little by Glen Burnie in the county championship match last season, the Falcons are poised to make somebody pay for that four-game loss to the Gophers. After losing to Glen Burnie, the Falcons regrouped for a run at a fourth straight state 4A championship but they ran into Northern of Calvert in the 4A East Region final and lost in three games. Northern went on to win the state 4A title. Severna Park still finished fourth in the final Baltimore Sun poll but it wasn't a vintage year for the Falcons. "We won three straight state titles and graduated the whole team," said Dunbar. "We set Julie Allen so much last year that I think we wore her out." Allen earned All-Metro first-team honors last year on the strength of 277 kills and is back. So is Butler who was the team's other big hitter last season. Seven players return to a squad that Dunbar says "runs as complicated a system as we can handle." Dunbar said some role players are going to have to step forward to help Severna Park, but this still looks like a No. 1 metro area team.
1994 record: 4-10. Coach: Lynn Svonavec (first year).
Top players: Jade Moore, Jr., setter/outside hitter; Corrine Scott, Sr., outside hitter.
Outlook: The numbers are still down (only 20 tried out) for the Bulldogs and there is no way they can compete with most of the schools in the county. But Svonavec said there is some natural talent on the team and the girls have a good attitude. That will count for something against the other 2A schools (Northeast and South River) in the county. Volleyball just isn't a popular thing to do in the fall at this school. "There are just too many other things our girls prefer to do here," said Svonavec. "Like the Southern Dance Company, the Palms and cheerleading." The Southern Dance company competes for regional and national dancing honors and the Palms dance at games.
South River Seahawks
1994 record: 10-5. Maureen Carter (second year).
Top players: Kim Thomas, Sr., middle blocker; Marybeth DuVall, Sr., outside hitter; Maura Smith, Sr., outside hitter; Beth Salley, Sr., middle hitter; Robin Catterton, Jr., setter.
Outlook: This school proves every year that you don't have to have a lot of players to be good. It just helps a lot. South River went to 2A East Region semifinals with eight players last season and the Seahawks were up, 2-0, against Northeast in the semis before losing in five games. This season South River will have nine players, with seven returning from last season. That's why Carter said: "We'll be pretty good for a 2A school. Our goal is to put matches away when we get up 2-0 like we were against Northeast. We have to keep the girls mentally into it. We need more determination." The 5-11 Thomas is the tallest girl on a team that is known for consistency. But the Seahawks do have the luxury of having six club players out of nine on the squad. Thomas, DuVall, Catterton, Salley, Smith and junior Stephanie Chell are all club players. "Our program has been growing steadily in the number of club players," said Carter. "We'll give people a run for their money this season."