Carroll Christian Patriots

1994 record: 14-2. Coach: Judy Mied.

Top players: Kristy Caldwell, Sr., H; Rachel Holdefer, Sr., H; Kelly Peterson, Sr., S; Nicole Dean, Sr., H; Kelly DeWitt, Soph., S; Cathy Saylor, Jr., H; Jodi Beard, Soph., H.

Outlook: How confident is Mied of this team's chances for a big year? "If ever we've had a chance at an undefeated season, it's this one," said Mied. Make no mistake, this is one talented team. The Patriots won the Maryland Association of Christian Schools state title last year, went on to the national tournament and return most of the key players. The team has strong back-row play, led by Saylor and Holdefer. Caldwell (5 feet 10), Dean (5-7) and Beard (5-7) should be able to control play at the net. Serving is another plus, in addition to passing (85 percent in the first three matches). This nucleus has been together for four years -- and it shows.

Francis Scott Key Eagles

1994 record: 14-5. Coach: Leo Totten.

Top players: Ericka Rutzbeck, Sr., H; Amy Brooks, Sr., S; Kristy Hollman, Sr., S; Stephanie Stambaugh, Jr., H; Cindy Sheedy, Jr., H; Nicole Keffer, Jr., H; Erin Neff, Jr., S.

Outlook: The Eagles won their second straight region title last year and, with a strong nucleus back, they could fare just as well this year. Totten has five starters back from last year's state semifinalists. Rutzbeck, Brooks, Hollman, Stambaugh, Keffer and Sheedy played a big role last year and return. They also should find plenty of help from Neff -- an excellent setter. Eight of the Eagles played together in the off-season, and Totten said the first few weeks of practice delighted him. Because so many of the pieces of last year's puzzle return, Totten said everyone must stay focused and not become overconfident. "I'm really optimistic about this year. I just want us to take it one practice at a time and one game at a time," said Totten.

Liberty Lions

1994 record: 4-10. Coach: Helen Derwin.

Top players: Ashley Davis, Sr., H; Candice Young, Jr., S; Shawna Brophy, Sr., S; Tara Prozialeck, Jr., S/H; Jen Bennett, Sr., S/H; Stacy Smith, Jr., H; Kristin Pulio, Jr., S; Emily Stuard, Soph., H; Kate Blatchford, Jr., H.

Outlook: The Lions should do much better this season. Derwin, whose team did not win a county match last year, already knocked off state finalist South Carroll on Monday. Liberty should be a hustling, scrappy team. Hitting will be a strength, and the Lions should rely on Davis for much of that. Young, an All-County setter, is going to spend much of her time feeding Davis and others as will Brophy. Helping Davis at the net will be Prozialeck, who should aid the Cavaliers also on defense. Bennett, a blocker, should do well at the net. Derwin said improving serves is at the top of her wish list -- as they missed eight serves in their first game against Franklin last week. "I think we'll be more competitive this year. I think our building has finally reached the point where we can be competitive," said Derwin.

North Carroll Panthers

1994 record: 12-4. Coach: Don'a Martin.

Top players: Carissa Kreichauf, Jr., H; Karen Carter, Jr., H; Stacy Cook, Sr., S; Kathleen Tunney, Sr., S/H; Wendy Redmer, Sr., S/H; Lisa Beverly, Jr., H; Jen Brezler, Jr., S/H.

Outlook: The Panthers, who shared the Central Maryland Conference title with Westminster, lost several seniors but the returnees have plenty of experience. Tunney is like "a coach on the court," Martin said. Cook is a quick setter, and Carter and Kreichauf each stood out last year as sophomores, and Martin expects both to be forces at the net. Martin said she's made a lot of subtle changes, and the Panthers are working on a variety of things. She wants her team to be able to make quick switches on the court to adjust to the other team. And that takes a lot of practice. "We have a lot of things up in the air. It could either be an awesome season or or we could really be learning things the hard way," said Martin.

South Carroll Cavaliers

1994 record: 10-8. Coach: Debbie Eaton.

Top players: Amy Stephenson, Sr., H; Kelly Johnson, Sr., H; Jen Felipe, Sr., H; Michelle Pickett, Sr., S; Danica Yerdon, Sr., S; Courtney Butler, Jr., H; Ce Wagener, Jr., H; Christa Farrar, Jr., H; Allison Smith, Sr., H.

Outlook: The Cavaliers lost five starters from 1994's surprise team. South Carroll stumbled to a 3-6 start, but it then won seven of its final nine, capturing the Class 3A West Region title and making it to the state final. Eaton said that althoughoffense and good passing sparked the team last year, defense and strong serving will be important. She said Stephenson -- who played well during that stretch run -- should help with strong back-row play. Look for Pickett and Yerdon to do a good job setting from the back row. Eaton said she's hoping for good hitting eventually as Wagener, Butler, Johnson, Felipe and Farrar all should help there. Eaton knows she has several holes to fill, and that the Cavaliers might take some time to get started but the talent is there.

Westminster Owls

1994 record: 13-3. Coach: Dana Falls.

Top players: Jacie Mathias, Sr., H; Carisa Cook, Sr. S/H; Annie Miller, Sr., S/H; Abigail Adams, Sr., H; Honesty Drumgoole, Jr., H; Jackie Hull, Jr., H.

Outlook: Despite losing some good players from last year's county champion and co-CMC champion, Falls has a good nucleus back. His top six players are strong and, where last year's top players were on offense, this year defense should lead the way. Mathias and Adams will key the passing and defense; Mathias, Cook and Drumgoole all can jump and cause problems at the net. Falls said he's hoping the hitting will develop as the season goes on, and he likes what he's seen so far. Falls also said he's been impressed by how well players are handling new roles. The Owls will need all of that help in the playoffs because they are in a difficult region with some talented Montgomery County schools.

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