Title repeats likely for Severna Park and Centennial Volleyball preview

September 15, 1992|By Tara Finnegan | Tara Finnegan,Staff Writer Glenn Graham, Gary Lambrecht, Steve Kivinski and Roch Eric Kubatko contributed to this article.

Severna Park and Centennial dominated volleyball in 1991, and a repeat performance is expected this year from the Anne Arundel and Howard County powers.

The Falcons and Eagles return with experience and tournament toughness that has produced championship teams and All-Metro players in recent years. Last year, each team went 19-0, with Severna Park taking the state Class 4A title and Centennial winning its second Class 3A title in the past three years.

Baltimore County's best, Catonsville and Loch Raven, each went undefeated in the regular season last year and return the bulk of their teams.

One factor that may set the tone is how each team reacts to starting after having no preseason scrimmages, which were canceled because of a lack of funding. If both teams adapt well, the Comets and the Raiders should challenge their Class 3A and 2A opponents.

Class 4A Region IV finalists Broadneck and Old Mill have been in the shadow of county powerhouse Severna Park. Both teams have seasoned players and tournament experience, and Old Mill has the added advantage of two 6-footers on the front line.

The Baltimore Sun's preseason top 10:

1. Severna Park

Tim Dunbar's Falcons went 19-0 and won the school's third state championship, and a fourth title seems within reach. Even with multitalented hitters April Kaiser and Cassandra Melton -- who combined for 275 kills last year -- having departed, the Falcons are the envy of rival Anne Arundel County coaches. Seniors Kate Marks (5-10) and Catherine Kirk (5-11) are imposing figures at the net, and senior Jaime Pirotte (5-7) ranks among the best setters in the state. The program also added three transfers who started for their respective teams, but most likely will come off the bench here.

2. Centennial

The Eagles return nearly their entire starting lineup from last year's 19-0 state-title team. That team did not lose the first game of any match, lost only four games overall, and did not lose one playoff game en route to its second state crown in three years. This team could be even better. Player of the Year Shannon Saltzman (senior, 149 kills, 40 point blocks) and Laura Taneyhill (senior, 122 kills) form a devastating combination in the front row, senior setter Sezin Omer (222 assists) is probably the league's top passer and junior Carly Cangiano (80 kills) adds more punch.

3. Broadneck

If Severna Park is the best team in Anne Arundel County, then Broadneck isn't far behind. The Bruins possess perhaps the best player in the county in senior outside hitter Julie Scott, who had more than 130 kills last year and is an accomplished server and defender. They have 11 players back from a team that went 13-3 and made the regional finals, but one key loss was setter Nikki St. Clair. Without her, coach Glenn Brainer is scrambling to find someone who can pass the ball with consistency to Scott and fellow hitters Jen Rapczynski and Julie Barr. "Right now, I feel we'll be able to hang with anybody offensively," Brainer says.

4. Catonsville

Despite graduating four starters, Catonsville still has a threat in 5-8 hitter Karla Uttenreither, a 1991 All-Metro selection who was 367-for-469 (.836) in spiking, with 154 kills. Also returning are All-County selection Gabrielle Clark (setter) and middle hitter Elizabeth Johnson, who were a part of last year's squad (14-1 overall, 13-0 regular season) that won the Baltimore County and Class 3A Regional titles.

5. Loch Raven

Carol McPherson's team comes back full of experience with 10 seniors returning from last year's squad (14-2) that finished runner-up to Mount Hebron in the Class 2A regionals. Senior setters Laura Zefia and Christine Moraski, who shared team honors for best serving (both over 90 percent), should keep the competition on their toes. Says McPherson: "We have the personnel to go farther than last year."

6. Old Mill

After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, Old Mill appears ready to take the next step. The Patriots have powerful 6-footers Anne Chicorelli and Debbie Dawson looming large at the net, plus a handful of other players at 5-9 and 5-10. They also possess an outstanding setter in senior Christine Baer (5-6). Eight players return, including seven seniors. "Having my major nucleus back, I hope this will be a good year for us," says coach Patti DeMarco.

7. Liberty

The Lions will have a tough time matching last season's effort (13-2) of reaching the state tournament, but they do have six players back and five up from last year's 10-5 JV squad. Eight-year coach Helen Derwin will look for a more balanced attack this season with no single go-to player as she had last year with graduated hitter Kelly Foreman -- who dominated at times. Seniors Chrissy Primavera, Carrie Myers and Laura Veise will try to fill the void.

8. Westminster

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