Athletes constantly talk of giving more than 100 percent, but South Carroll senior setter Brianna Schell actually gives it.
Schell's penchant for diving after loose balls has garnered good-natured ribbing from Cavaliers coach Debbie Eaton.
"I always tease her about being on the floor more than on her feet," Eaton says. "I've seen her jump over chairs and bleachers to get to a ball. Nothing stops her."
That attitude is part of the reason the 5-foot-4 Schell is not only the team leader in assists, but also is the floor general for South Carroll, which plays host to Liberty in a Class 3A West regional volleyball semifinal at 7 tonight in Sykesville.
Schell has recorded 352 assists this season, helping 5-foot-8 junior middle hitter Emily Wolfing and 5-foot-10 senior middle hitter Victo- ria Softy collect 150 and 91 kills, respectively.
But Schell said she gains as much satisfaction from saving a ball as she does from setting one up.
"It means a lot to me when everyone is screaming after a good dig," Schell said. "If I'm on the court and there's any possible way of getting the ball, with all I've got, it's not going to hit the ground."
Schell began playing organized volleyball as an eighth-grader at New Windsor Middle School, but her first taste of the sport came during family reunions at her parents' house in Sykesville.
Schell said playing volleyball with relatives was just as nerve-wracking as playing with strangers.
"They got really competitive," she said of the family reunions. "But I really enjoyed that."
A setter on a clinic team in New Windsor, Schell toyed with the idea of being a hitter during her sophomore year on the South Carroll junior varsity, but returned to her more natural position before the start of her junior season on the varsity.
Schell said she prefers the mental challenge of the setter's role.
"You have to learn how everyone likes to play," she said. "You need to judge where the pass is going to come from, you have to judge where the player is positioned, and you need to judge who I'm going to set it to. It's a real good mental game."
Eaton said Schell has developed into a take-charge leader who isn't shy about voicing her opinion to her teammates.
"A lot of times, it's hard for peers to listen to someone telling them what to do," Eaton said. "But she leads by example and plays the way she wants her teammates to play."
Wolfing said Schell's talk doesn't distract the team.
"She's very motivational," Wolfing said. "She wants to win badly, and so do we."