Volleyball rules again at Davidson household Glenelg sisters follow parents

September 20, 1993|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

The volleyball net in Marisa and Elisa Davidson's backyard gets little rest this time of year.

Even after a tough practice with their Glenelg High team, the sisters often head home for more volleyball. Weekends might find them playing two-on-two against their parents.

Although they play lacrosse in the spring and Elisa runs indoor track, these teen-agers just about live for volleyball. And that's sort of a family tradition.

Their mother, Evelyn, played college volleyball at the University of Maryland and continued to play in tournaments even after her daughters were born.

Their father, Jan, plays the backyard variety but also writes a newsletter for the Columbia Volleyball Club, where the girls play in the off-season.

When Marisa, now a senior, decided to take up the game as an eighth-grader, her mother was thrilled. Elisa, a sophomore, followed Marisa to the court two years later.

"I never really pushed them into volleyball," said Evelyn Davidson, "but they had probably seen it or heard it talked about enough that they had an interest in it."

Now, they can't seem to get enough.

Marisa and Elisa play almost all year around. After the high-school season ends, they play for the Columbia Volleyball Club until summer.

Marisa, a 6-foot power hitter with a 23-inch vertical leap, is one of the club's top players, and Elisa, a 5-8 hitter, is catching up fast.

Last spring, Marisa's 18-and-under club team won the Atlantic Power Rim competition and advanced to the U.S. Junior Olympic Volleyball nationals in Kansas City. There, they finished 49th of 64 teams. Not bad, since they were seeded almost last.

Elisa's 16-and-under team didn't qualify for the nationals, but she moved up to play on Marisa's team. The team was practically a who's who of Howard County volleyball, including Centennial graduate Shannon Saltzman (Maryland) and current Eagles stars Carly Cangiano, Krisha Svehla and Erika Hockycko.

"On the club team, you get the best of the best teammates," said Marisa. "The competition is so much better. High school is just slower paced."

At Glenelg, whose Gladiators are ranked No. 4 by The Baltimore Sun, Marisa is the top offensive weapon.

In last Tuesday's 15-10, 9-15, 15-2, 15-5 loss to No. 1 Centennial, the all-county first-teamer had 10 kills in the match, going 28-33 hitting. She also had three point blocks.

Elisa, who played varsity as a freshman, struggled a bit at the net, going 9-15 hitting with one kill. She had five point blocks and 13 assists.

Right now, Elisa, who has a 24-inch vertical leap, fills a dual role for the Gladiators. She sets from the back row and hits from the front. Because she only hits for her club team, setting is somewhat new to her.

"In the beginning, I didn't want to do it at all. After we played two scrimmages, I kind of like it. It's kind of like you're in control of the team," said Elisa, who carries a 3.33 grade-point average.

Gladiators coach Marlene Janis ranks Marisa as one of the best players she's ever coached, and she said Elisa could be even better.

"They're both very smart players," said Janis. "They have natural ability, but since they developed their skills pretty quickly, more so than most, they pick things up faster.

"They're aware of what's happening on the other side of the net, so they know how to place the ball. They're aware of the blockers and know what kind of defense the other team is playing. Usually you wouldn't see that until a more advanced level."

Marisa, who carries a 3.64 grade-point average, has a stack of recruiting letters from college coaches across the country. More than 50 have shown an interest, but Marisa is trying to narrow down her preferences.

As a sophomore, Elisa is too young to be recruited, but Janis expects her to draw the same kind of attention in a couple of years.

For now, however, the sisters will concentrate on Thursday's rematch with Centennial, the team they would most like to beat.

"We'd basically just like to play well even if we don't win," said Marisa.

"We'd at least like to take them to five games and scare them," added Elisa.

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