Eagles seek production from new cast of seniors Newcomers bring balance to attack 1993 high school volleyball preview F.S. Key

September 10, 1993|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

The Francis Scott Key volleyball program is running like a well-oiled machine these days.

After graduating a majority of its starters from a team that recorded a school-high 11 wins last year -- including a win in the region playoffs -- the squad is reloading this season with a new cast of senior talent.

"We had a senior-laden team last year, and these kids kind of took a back seat," Key coach Leo Totten said.

"Now, they know it's their time to step up, and they're taking control. We have a nice balance of experience, and new folks and the seniors are working very hard on making sure everything jells."

Six seniors anchor the squad. Karen Brook and Amber Smith will do most of the setting. Melanie Montgomery is a strong middle hitter and blocker. Julie LeBrun, Mandy Hansborough and Amanda Keeney also will hit and are defensive standouts.

Totten is relying on everyone contributing.

"We don't have any superstars. It's more of a team thing, and if everything molds together like it should, the individuals' roles will fall into place," he said.

"We're really counting on all the seniors to provide leadership whether they're on the floor or on the bench."

Complementing the senior group are some talented underclassmen. Junior Maureen Ritcey is a steady hitter and thrives on defense. Keri Chewning and Sherry Andrew will help set, and Emily Koons will provide support as a hitter.

Sophomore Ericka Rutzebeck and freshman Stephanie Stambaugh are versatile newcomers with plenty of potential.

Totten said she is excited about the prospects of playing in a new region. After going up against much of the same Washington County teams (Williamsport, Boonsboro and Smithsburg) they face regularly in the tough Monocacy Valley Athletic League, the Eagles will move to the North region, where they'll compete against teams from Baltimore, Cecil and Harford counties.

Last year, the Eagles defeated Smithsburg in the region semifinals before losing to eventual state champion Williamsport the region finals.

"It's nice to be in a region with those top-notch teams from Washington County, but we see them during the regular season in the MVAL," Totten said.

"The realignment will put us back with a lot of Baltimore County teams, and we're excited about seeing some new faces."

As for building and maintaining a winning tradition, Totten says it all begins long before any players get to him on varsity.

"The key to tradition starts at the junior-varsity level and even before that with more and more kids playing in middle school," he said.

"Kids are doing the things needed to prepare for high school volleyball and there is more out there for them, like clinics we run during the spring."

Totten praised the efforts of former JV coach Cathy Little, who is now an assistant at Western Maryland College. Alice Smith took over the Eagles' junior varsity, and they again should be strong.

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