Keiner's option play: basketball, volleyball?

January 09, 1994|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,Staff Writer

Sonia Keiner has a decision to make.

Basketball? Volleyball? Or both?

The Hammond senior wants to play a sport in college. She just can't make up her mind which one.

Since her freshman year, Keiner has excelled at basketball and volleyball. Ask her which sport she favors, and she'd usually answer whichever she was playing at the time.

Now, the choice is not so easy.

"I'm starting to feel some pressure [to decide]," said Keiner. "I keep telling my parents I'm going to end up at Howard Community College, but even after the season and into the summer, I'm told there are scholarships left over."

College coaches in both sports have noticed Keiner's accomplishments. An All-County volleyball selection, she holds four career records at Hammond, including points scored. The versatile player hit and set, leading the Golden Bears to a 10-5 record.

However, she gets more visibility as a 5-foot-9 shooting guard on the area's No. 2 basketball team (6-1). Keiner stands third on the team, averaging 11.8 points, and she is tied for second in rebounds with 6.8.

Keiner has been more heavily recruited for basketball, including by several Division I schools. Bears basketball coach Joe Russo has no doubt which sport he thinks Keiner should choose.

"She really likes volleyball, but I think her ticket will be basketball," said Russo. "She was the No. 2 choice of a number of schools during the early signing period."

For the past three years, Keiner has honed her skills on an Amateur Athletic Union team -- the Waves -- based in Anne Arundel County. The Waves, who finished in the top 16 at the AAU national championships last summer, also included Bears teammates Kacy Williams (who signed early with Georgetown), Tiki Nicholson and Tameka Harrison.

"Playing AAU has helped them all a great deal," said Russo. "For Sonia, when she first came [to Hammond], we had to put her down as a forward. One of the things she does is rebound well for her size, but her ticket to college is as a shooting guard. Because of all the other girls [in AAU], it gave her a chance to play that position and she's playing it into this year."

Russo credits Keiner and Williams, who have been friends since kindergarten, with turning the Hammond program around.

The year before they arrived, Hammond won just one game. In 1991, the Bears rebounded to 12-12 before crowning 1992's 22-4 record with a state championship. Last year, the Bears finished 21-5, falling in the state title game.

Still, on that sheet of lists, there would be one strong entry under volleyball.

"I don't feel as pressured to do well in volleyball as I do in basketball," said Keiner, who scored 20 points in her first organized basketball game five years ago. "Volleyball is a lot of fun. I feel more relaxed."

Keiner admits that more pressure comes with being a starter on a highly ranked team that is a state title contender. She knows she might not face that same kind of pressure on a college basketball team.

Actually, the choice between basketball and volleyball is not a new one for Keiner. She already has made it once -- and she opted for basketball.

Two years ago, playing for the Capital Volleyball Club began to conflict with high school basketball.

"They're a very serious club, and they said I had to make a choice, because I was missing practice for basketball, so I said, 'See ya.' I kind of missed it, though," she said.

If she just cannot choose, Keiner could play both sports at the Division III level. But that choice could bring its own pressures.

"I'm not sure if that would be too much," said Keiner, a 3.38 student interested in psychology and physical therapy.

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