When the season started for top-ranked Mount de Sales, it was pretty much a given that All-Metro first-team selection Katy Buck would be the leader. The question was whether junior Hannah Schmidt could lead the supporting cast.
Schmidt stepped up early and often Saturday, boosting the Sailors (17-0) to a 25-15, 25-12, 25-18 victory over Seton Keough (8-7) and the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference title at Roland Park.
The championship was the second straight for the Sailors, who upset heavily favored St. Paul's to win the crown last year. This year was different, as the Sailors were the league favorite from Day One.
"I went to Hannah before the season and told her that I never wanted her to come off the court," Sailors coach Monica Owensby said. "I worked with her on her defense and serve-receive. She has made major adjustments this year, and her digging has really improved."
Schmidt, who is 5 feet 11, recorded 14 digs in the match as well as 13 kills and two block kills. Her best game was the first one, in which she recorded three kills in Mount de Sales' first eight points. She stepped to the service line with the Sailors leading 9-4 and left it with two aces and Mount de Sales leading 14-4.
The Gators adjusted their defense in the second game and led briefly, but then Buck came alive. The senior (19 kills, 18 digs), who will play at Towson University next season, recorded three kills in four points to given the Sailors the lead for good
In the third game, Mount de Sales took a 23-14 lead before the Gators - behind juniors Liz Brown and Adama Aja - cut it to 23-18. Schmidt stopped the run with a kill, and the Sailors finished the match with her serving.
"We worked a lot at running a faster offense," Schmidt said. "I was insanely pumped for this game. I really wanted it."
In the B Conference championship, John Carroll (16-4) took a 2-0 lead in games and held on to defeat Mercy, (12-4), 25-18, 25-15, 17-25, 25-17. The B Conference crown was the second for the Patriots, who also won in 2002 (John Carroll also won the A Conference in 2003).
The Magic lost senior starting setter Johanna Laue in warm-ups and never recovered.
Nicole Wagner led the Patriots with 10 kills, and Taylor Schafer pitched in nine kills and three aces. The teams split during the regular season. Ava Trageser led Mercy with 22 kills and six digs.
St. Timothy's (11-3) won its first volleyball title, defeating Catholic, (14-1), 25-21, 25-21, 25-20, to win the C Conference crown. Junior Cassie Raglan led St. Timothy's with 16 kills, nine aces and 49 digs.