ALL-METRO VOLLEYBALL

The Baltimore Sun

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Bailey Webster

St. Paul's, hitter

Webster's court presence was often enough to intimidate other teams before the ball was even struck. Perhaps the best volleyball player ever in the metro area, Webster simply took over matches. At times, she single-handedly kept her team in matches and rallied it when things got tough.

The most highly recruited player in the nation, the 6-foot-3 senior entertained offers from hundreds of Division I schools before deciding on the University of Texas. She will graduate early from St. Paul's and enroll at Texas at the end of January. She will also play in the Under Armour National High School All-Star Game in Omaha, Neb., on Dec. 21.

She followed up last season - when she was named The Sun's All-Metro Player of the Year and the Gatorade Player of the Year for Maryland - with 487 kills, 21 blocks and 89 digs this year en route to leading the Gators to a runner-up finish in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.

"The improvements she made from year to year were tremendous," said St. Paul's coach Kelli Wilkinson. "She could have stood on her laurels, but she continued to work on the nuances of the game and just got better and better."

During Webster's time at St. Paul's, the Gators compiled an 80-9 record in matches she played in and won IAAM conference championships in her freshman and junior years. They also won the MD/DC private schools title last year.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Kenny Mills

Mount de Sales

Under Mills' direction, the Sailors dethroned St. Paul's to win the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference championship.

The title was something Mills, who resigned as the Mount de Sales coach after the season because he is moving to Massachusetts, had been building toward during his six years as coach. Mills took over the team when it moved from the IAAM B Conference to the A Conference in 2003. His record at Mount de Sales is 139-33.

He began his coaching career at the school as the track coach, but he dropped that two years ago to concentrate on volleyball. Under his leadership, the team began to jell and the wins began to increase. The fact that two of his players (Katy Buck and Kasey Mercier) made All-Metro teams this season is a direct reflection of his coaching.

"At first, I was kind of in shock when we won the title, but it's something we've been working hard towards for three years," Mills said. "I'm just really excited for the girls that we were finally able to pull it off."

Mills said the decision to resign was difficult and that the championship and his time at Mount de Sales will always be special.

"I'm leaving something that's very important to me, so that's always hard," Mills said. "We've got the program where we want it, and I'm confident it will still be successful."

FIRST TEAM

Samantha Brostrom

Centennial, hitter

A two-year starter, the sophomore came into her own this season in helping the top-ranked Eagles win the Class 3A state title.

A powerful hitter, she led Centennial with 172 kills and was the go-to player at the net. Her 42 aces from the service line were also a key to the Eagles' success.

On the defensive side, Brostrom would often finish matches bruised, thanks to her 92 digs.

"She has a love of the game, and she loves to hit the ball," Centennial coach Larry Schofield said. "She likes the power game, and we sometimes had to work on her to dial her intensity back in practice. She also played middle blocker on defense, and that only made us stronger in that part of the game."

Katy Buck

Mount de Sales, hitter

Buck was one of the main reasons Mount de Sales won the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title and finished No. 2 in The Baltimore Sun's poll.

The junior contributed 159 kills, 230 digs, 12 blocks and 15 aces. She was the floor leader for the Sailors and was often counted on to end a rally or to change the momentum.

"She's very humble," Mount de Sales coach Kenny Mills said. "She's a fighter who leads by example, and the rest of team fed off of that."

Towson, UMBC, George Mason and Delaware have expressed interest in Buck.

Sarah Hall

Centennial, blocker

Working in tandem with Samantha Brostrom, Hall was one of the key components in the Eagles' march to the Class 3A state title. As a middle blocker, she did the little things that made Centennial the No. 1 team in the area.

It was a constant challenge for opponents to try to get the ball past Hall, who had a team-leading 26 blocks.

"We were playing Fallston [in the regional final], and I think she got to four balls in a row before she finally got the block," Centennial coach Larry Schofield said. "She was a brick wall for us, a real force at the net. Our offense was our defense, and she made it go."

In addition to her play at the net, the junior contributed 98 kills.

Caroline Jacobs

Broadneck, hitter

Jacobs helped the No. 3 Bruins win their second straight Class 4A state title.

She contributed 153 kills, 44 blocks, 63 digs and 46 aces to lead Broadneck to an 18-1 record, with the only loss coming to Padua Academy of Delaware.

Jacobs showed excellent leadership skills and frequently rallied her teammates when they needed to switch the momentum.

"She was our captain, or general," Broadneck coach Scott Graf said. "She had a vision of what we could be this year, and the team kind of followed her."

Jacobs has been accepted to the Naval Academy, where she hopes to play volleyball.

Alli Kamsch

Severna Park, hitter

Kamsch was a major part of the ninth-ranked Falcons' offense and defense. For the season, she collected 59 aces from the service line - 20 more than anyone else on the team.

The Falcons ran a lot of their defenses off her blocks, and she was a force at the net. The senior had 42 blocks.

"She brought a lot of consistency to the middle hitter position for us," Severna Park coach Jamie Leventry said. "On top of all that, she's a heck of a server."

Kamsch, who also contributed 85 kills and 21 digs, plans to attend the Rochester Institute of Technology next year and play volleyball.

Becky Paynter

River Hill, setter

After playing in the shadow of teammate Maddi Lee, last year's Howard County Player of the Year, Paynter embraced her role as a leader this year for the seventh-ranked Hawks, guiding the young team to the Class 2A state semifinals.

The senior ran the Hawks' offense, but she also contributed to it, as evidenced by her 518 assists and 123 kills. In 271 serves this year, she had 12 service errors.

Her best match of the season might have come against Rising Sun in the 2A state semifinals. Paynter contributed seven kills and 40 assists in a near upset of the Tigers, the two-time defending state champions.

"In my 20 years of coaching, I may have had two other athletes in the same tier as Becky," River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher said. "She had a great run at River Hill, and it will be hard to replace her."

Paynter is undecided on a college.

Becca Webb

Fallston, hitter

Webb led the sixth-ranked Cougars to an 17-1 record and the runner-up spot in the Class 3A East region behind Centennial.

The senior contributed 183 kills and 42 aces to lead the Fallston offense, and her ability to control the net was the major reason the Cougars won the Upper Chesapeake Bay Athletic Conference title. The Cougars proved they belonged among the elite teams in the area when they beat Howard County runner-up Wilde Lake in the regional semifinals. Webb's leadership proved instrumental in helping the team accomplish that feat.

"She was a great captain, a great leader and an awesome person, and it's hard to put into words how tough it is to lose her," Fallston coach Nicole Hoover said.

Webb is still deciding on a college.

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