Omer poses double trouble for Eagles' foes Girls volleyball

November 13, 1992|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

When asked who's the best setter he has ever had, ninth-year Centennial volleyball coach Bill Shook tries to be diplomatic.

At first, he names four players -- Jenny Majewski (1984), Sue Gallagher (1986), Dawn Reuille (1989) and Sezin Omer (1992) -- as being equal, although they played in separate eras and with different levels of players. Then slowly, Omer's name emerges from the group.

"They appear to be the best setters we've ever had," Shook said. "But I would say Sezin is the best of the four, just because the level of players around her is much better and so she's capable of doing more."

A senior, Omer's play-making skills make her an integral part of Centennial's No. 1 ranked volleyball team. In 44 regular-season county matches, she finished first in assist average, placing second in total assists to Mount Hebron's Kai Scott.

In the Class 3A, Region III semifinals Tuesday, top seed Centennial (14-0) beat fourth seed Carver, 15-0, 15-0, 15-0. The Eagles (14-0) play host to second seed Northwestern in today's regional championship.

Centennial, ranked 20th nationally in the USA Today girls volleyball rankings of Nov. 4, is hoping to duplicate its 1991 state championship season, when it went 19-0.

"We can go to states," Omer said. "We're a lot stronger this year, and last year we were undefeated."

A repeat title is something that the five seniors -- Omer, Shannon Saltzman, Laura Taneyhill, Sandy Palasek and Jenni Bartel -- have been looking forward to since their sophomore year, Omer said.

Since that sophomore season, Omer's customary position has been at setter. She's consistently the player receiving passes from backcourt specialists like Palasek and setting up hitters like 6-foot Saltzman, 6-0 sophomore Krisha Svehla, 5-11 junior Carlyn Cangiano, Bartel and Taneyhill for kills.

Most of the individual recognition goes to the hitters, because they get credit for points off Omer's assists. But this year, Omer also is playing hitter, and gaining some publicity.

The 5-7 Omer has a 23-inch vertical leap, second on the team to Taneyhill (25). Shook considers her one of Centennial's strongest players and one with great endurance and leg power. He rarely substitutes for Omer, who alternates between setter and hitter in a 6-2 offense.

"She's proving that she's an all-around player," Shook said. "Before, she was just doing the night shift. Now, she's doing a night shift and a day shift."

Of her dual role, Omer said, "I like it a lot. I never got a chance to hit and I always wanted to. This past summer, I worked on it every day outside."

Outside meant in the sand, where Omer went to jump and strengthen her legs to prepare to play hitter. She also lifted weights and ran.

The seniors are a close-knit group. Taneyhill, teammates with Omer since eighth grade at the Columbia Volleyball Club, describes her friend as "a fast learner, a fast thinker, a very smart player." Saltzman, The Baltimore Sun's 1991 Volleyball Player of the Year, helps Omer with her hitting skills.

Shook also praises Omer's consistent serving, characterizing her a "quarterback" in that position. He said she has a tremendous instinct for placing the ball to opponents' weaker players. Omer has tallied 1992 team highs of 66 aces (1.4 average) and a 94.6 service percentage (229 of 242).

"She's just a good, all-around volleyball player and you don't usually see that in setters," Shook said. "She's a setter that has front-row abilities that most setters in high school will be much weaker at."

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