For Glen Burnie graduate Stacey Gilligan, the beat goes on.
Last fall, the heavy-hitting Gilligan led the Gophers to an 18-0 record and a Class 4A state championship, earning The Anne Arundel County Sun's 1990 Volleyball Player of the Year honors.
A year later, the 5-foot-9 freshman outside hitter has powered her way to the top of the college ranks at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
At Friday night's Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament banquetat George Washington University, Gilligan, 17, was named the league's Rookie of the Year.
Gilligan, home for Thanksgiving, said yesterday, "I felt like I had worked hard and everything, but was still surprised that I was the one it came down to."
Then again, Coach JeffYurko always told her she was the one everything came down to.
"My coach always put just enough pressure on me to keep me going. He always told me that I was a leader and that a lot depended on me," saidGilligan. "I had to keep my chin up and not let everybody down. Then, when I was on, the team was on."
Earning first-team, All-Atlantic 10 honors, she ranked second in the conference in both hitting and defense with an average of 3.96 kills per game and 4.04 digs.
Ranked second on the team with 46 service aces and third among the league's best, Gilligan also led the Pittsburgh school to (12-13) to their first Atlantic 10 tournament appearance.
The Lady Dukes were ousted, however, 0-15, 15-3, 5-15, 9-15, by George Washington in Saturday's first-round opener.
Twice during the year, Gilligan was chosen as the Atlantic 10's Freshman of the Week. At one time during the regular season, the Lady Dukes had a 7-2 record.
At Glen Burnie, Gilligan totaled 406 career kills, including 192 during her senior season.That year, she also served at a team-high 95.6 percent with 47 aces and 15 point blocks.
She endured a rocky start during her first outings at Duquesne.
"At the beginning of the season, I didn't feel solid at all," Gilligan said. "But near the end I started being more consistent. I learned to hit sharp crosses, so getting around the blocks became easier, and just my overall confidence improved."
She ended her freshman year with a team-high 333 kills and 341 digs while recording 44 blocks, including 22 solos.
"In college, you get blocked a lot more, but you can't get down on yourself," she said. "It started off hard, but eventually, you get adjusted to it. Everything falls into place, but it takes time. You just have to keep whaling awayat it."