1996 record: 15-6
Coach: Mike Kalinock
Top players: Jen Thomas, Jr., OH; Jen Poston, So., OH; Lauren Mickley, So., OH.
Outlook: With only one returning starter from last year's Class 2A state finalist, and no experienced setter, Kalinock has his work cut out for him. "Wins and losses aren't going to mean anything this year," said Kalinock, whose team lost to North East in four games in the state final. "What's most important is developing the team and this program." Thomas, the lone returning starter, is moving from middle hitter to outside hitter. Poston and Mickley were on the varsity last year but had limited playing time. Kalinock, last year's Howard County co-Coach of the Year, hopes to get solid contributions from junior middle hitter Kristen Trinkaus and freshman middle/outside hitter Kallie Greatwood. The Raiders, who finished third (10-5) in the county last season, have three seniors -- all with limited experience -- three juniors, four sophomores and three freshmen.
1996 record: 19-0
Coach: Mike Bossom
Top players: Briana Zolak, Sr., OH; Robyn West, Sr., MH/OH; Susan Yi, Sr., S; Kathleen O'Connor, Sr., MH, RSH; Michelle Flather, Sr., OH/RH; Marcy Cangiano, Sr., BCS; Lisa Chapman, Jr. S; Beth Stradling, So., MH; Melissa Bossle, Sr., OH/RH.
Outlook: Talent. Experience. Tradition. The Eagles have it all. This season, according to Bossom, the players must "maintain their drive and focus." If they do that, the Eagles are going to be hard to beat. "When everyone says you're going to win, you tend to believe it. They can't let that happen. Anybody can lose on a given day," added Bossom. Half of the 14-player team are seniors, and five of them return as starters. The only player to graduate from last year's county, regional and state champion was Meredith Price, the all-county and All-Metro Player of the Year. Centennial, which has 13 club players on its varsity, has won six state titles and five of the last six Class 3A championships. The Eagles also have won 10 county titles, including the last six in a row. Zolak, a first-team All-Metro selection, and Yi, a second-team All-Metro pick, will lead the way along with West, a second-team all-county selection. Zolak brings "intensity, ball control and power" said Bossom. "She fills the role a lot like Meredith did last year." Zolak and West are two of the hardest hitters in the county. "We have the ability to be a very strong team, but we don't want to get ahead of ourselves," said Zolak. "We have to work hard, keep our intensity up and play well together." Bossom, never wanting to sit pat, has added some new wrinkles to the team playbook. He also brought up five players from last year's unbeaten junior varsity.
Chapelgate Christian Flames
1996 record: 17-1
Coach: Chris Moxley
Top players: Devon Jancuska, Sr., S; Sue Huber, Sr. S/MH; Elizabeth Klein, Sr., OH; Jennie Van Ness, Jr., OH.
Outlook: The Flames, who went undefeated in the Christian School Athletic Association Association last year, will play in the more competitive AIS B division this season. And despite losing three starters, including juniors Stephanie Kunkel and Amy Sackville, who transferred to public schools, Moxley has high hopes. "It's going to take work and dedication from the players, but I think we can play well in this division. I'd say the outlook is good," Moxley said. "The skills are there. We need to work on playing as a team and also to be consistent." Jancuska and Huber, both outside hitters last year, will play in different positions this season.
1996 record: 12-7
Coach: Marlene Dugan
Top players: Jamie Bullock, Jr., OH; Pam Goldberg, Sr., OH; Kim Laws, Sr., MH; Christina Mills, Jr., S; Arney Walker, Sr., MH; Vicki Bennett, Sr., BCS.
Outlook: The rumor was that Glenelg was going to get a setter. "I heard it, too," Dugan said. Then, on the second day of tryouts, Mills, a transfer student from Seneca Valley of Montgomery County, appeared. "She's a very nice addition," Dugan said. "We're very well-rounded. "We have a good setter, good hitters and good defensive players. There aren't too many weaknesses. I think we'll be very competitive." Also expected to see a good amount of playing time are sophomore Nicole Barnoski (backcourt specialist/setter) and juniors Kristi Hedlesky (outside hitter/setter) and Laurie Driver (middle hitter). "One of our strengths this year is that we have a lot of depth," said Dugan. "I feel comfortable substituting in any situation, and that's something we haven't had in a number of years." The Gladiators won Class 2A state titles in 1993 and 1995.
Hammond Golden Bears
1996 record: 9-7
Coach: Ken McLaughlin
Top players: Monica McLaughlin, Jr., S; Andriane Panzera, Sr., MH; Jen Dickson, Sr., OH; Lauren Inouye, Sr., OH; Kyra Sliwinski, MH.
Outlook: With five starters back and the top seven players
having club experience, the Golden Bears have a lot going for them. "We're going to be a strong team," McLaughlin said. "We're not a Centennial, but I think we're in the next tier." Last year Hammond tied for fourth (9-6) in the county with Glenelg. McLaughlin said his team has all the components -- defense, good passing, hard hitting and good serving -- to be effective. And complementing that is their knowledge of the sport. "They know where they're supposed to be," McLaughlin said, "and that's a big key." On the down side, McLaughlin said the Golden Bears must become more consistent in their play. Sliwinski agreed. "We're kind of on and off," she said. Sliwinski added that the Golden Bears "need to play more as a team and to talk more on the court." Stefanie Bumgarner, a junior right-side hitter, and Stephanie Forsythe, a senior outside/right-side hitter, also will get significant playing time.
1996 record: 2-14
Coach: Craig O'Connell
Top players: Ophelia Tindall, Jr., OH; Julie Newhouse, Jr., OH.
Outlook: With five starters gone from last year's team it's easy to understand why O'Connell called this season "a rebuilding year." Tindall and Newhouse played together on a club team and give the Lions some stability and leadership. Besides Tindall and Newhouse, junior setter Lia Bernstein is the only other returning varsity player. The Lions have 10 varsity players, none of them seniors. Sophomore Amy Bumiller, a setter/backcourt specialist, has played well in practice.
Long Reach Lightning
1996 record: 1-16
Coach: Christine Ewing
Top players: Adey Anfune, Sr., BCS; Kathy Shahrokh, So., S; Janean Allen, Jr., OH; Cynthia Nicholls, So., MH.
Outlook: Winless in the county last year, Ewing's patience and positive outlook should be rewarded this season. "We are much improved," Ewing said. "The players know they can do more, and they expect more." Anfune, Shahrokh and Allen have gained valuable experience on club teams. Three players with no experience, but plenty of height, also should contribute. Ewing said the three -- junior right hitter Sheree Gross (6-0) and freshmen Tamara Jackson (6-1, outside/middle hitter) and Candice Washington (6-1, middle hitter) -- are "all good athletes and are learning very quickly." Ewing said the team has a positive outlook and is ready to take the next step. "This team should be able to compete with anybody," said Ewing, who added the players are more offensive-minded and are running an attack rather then just trying to get the ball over the net.
Mount Hebron Vikings
1996 record: 13-4
Coach: Kedre Fairley
Top players: Kristina Kaltreider, Jr., OH; Samantha Crehan, Jr., MH; Shannon Toback, Sr., RH.
Outlook: With only five players -- including starters Kaltreider and Toback -- returning from last year's team that finished second (12-3) in the county, Fairly calls this a "building year." Among those who graduated was first-team All-Metro setter Kerry Quinn, whose leadership was as important to the Vikings as her play. Even though the team is young -- two seniors, four juniors and five sophomores -- there is talent. Nine of the 11 players have club experience. Fairley's main task will be finding the right combination. "If I can get the lineup straight I think we'll be all right," said Fairly. "We have the talent, there's no doubt about it." Also expected to see playing time will be juniors Erin Guest (backcourt specialist), Alyssa Trocher (setter) and middle hitter Julie Kurtzman, one of five sophomores who moved up from the junior varsity.
Oakland Mills Scorpions
1996 record: 10-8
Coach: Kim Rosado
Top players: Sara Berndt, Sr., OH; Laura Zimmerman, Jr., OH; Shannon Monahan, Sr., S; Julie Richards, Sr., MH.
Outlook: Berndt and Zimmerman are the only returning starters from last year's team that ended in a tie for sixth (8-7) in the county with River Hill. "As a team they generally work pretty well together," said Rosado. "But they have to communicate better." Rosado said if the Scorpions "play the way they're capable of playing, they'll be competitive." She hopes the team will "keep it at a level like it was last year and come out with a better than .500 season." Also expected to contribute are seniors Andrea St. Clair (outside/middle hitter) and Jill Garafano (right-side hitter) and juniors Ilyse Reid (setter) and Erin Hughes (outside/right-side hitter). "I think we'll do better then most people think," Berndt said. "We have the talent."
River Hill Hawks
1996 record: 10-8
Coach: Sybil Modispacher
Top players: Amber Reig, Sr., S; Shannon Patrick, So., MH; Ingrid Frank, Sr., OH; Lisa Humphrey, So., OH.
Outlook: Four of the team's top seven players are sophomores, but for the Hawks, the future is now. "This team believes it can play with anybody, and when you believe that, it can happen," said Modispacher, whose team finished tied for sixth (8-7) with Oakland Mills in the county last season. "I think we're among the top teams [in the county]." Senior outside hitter Beth Thomas had arthroscopic surgery in May to remove scar tissue and cartilage in her right knee. She still plays despite pain, and is expected to start. Also expected to see significant playing time are sophomores Carrie Kelehan (middle hitter) and Kristin Dahlen (middle/outside hitter). Dahlen returns after twice breaking her right wrist last year. Modispacher, whose team consists of three seniors, three juniors and six sophomores, wants the team to maintain last year's strong defensive effort while improving on offense. "We need to take it a step higher," she said. The Hawks have confidence, experience -- many of their players are together on club teams -- and enthusiasm. "I know we're all ready to go out and prove ourselves," said Reig, an all-county first-team selection last year. "If everyone can stay injury free, I think we'll have a successful season."
Wilde Lake Wildecats
1996 record: 3-14
Coach: Melissa Dombkiewicz
Top players: Lindsay Smardon, So, OH; Kathy James, Jr., MH; Charissa Manolopoulos, Sr., MH.
Outlook: Newcomers James, a transfer from Seton Keough, and freshman setter Sarah Albert will make the Wildecats a much-improved team. Dombkiewicz calls Albert "the heart of our offense" while the addition of James in the middle "means we can run a quicker offense." Dombkiewicz was all smiles last Saturday after her team swept Oakland Mills and split with River Hill -- two schools that beat Wilde Lake last season -- in scrimmages at Long Reach. "I'm extremely pleased," Dombkiewicz said. "We lost to Oakland Mills three times last year [including regionals], and it really builds your confidence to beat a team of River Hill's caliber. This scrimmage was an eye-opener to see what we could do." Dombkiewicz said her team "lost a lot of close games" last year. She expects the Wildecats, whose only two wins in the county last season were against Long Reach, to reverse that trend this year. Returning starters Smardon and Manolopoulos along with Albert play club ball.
Preseason Top 15
2. Severna Park
5. Loch Raven
6. Perry Hall
8. Mount Hebron
9. River Hill
10. South River
13. Glen Burnie
15. Francis Scott Key
Preseason poll was chosen by The Sun staff after consulting with area coaches.
Pub Date: 9/03/97