Playoff changes benefit Owings Mills, Lansdowne

September 12, 1994|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer Mike Frainie and Kiah Stokes contributed to this article

The new playoff format for an open state volleyball tournament is changing several coaching strategies this season. Under the new playoff system, all teams will receive an automatic postseason berth, regardless of regular-season records.

"It gives coaches a different perspective on the season," Owings Mills coach Lisa Meyer said. "It allows coaches to use different players and gives everyone a chance to contribute. Coaches now have time to get their teams and their benches ready for the playoffs."

The Eagles, who will start several underclassmen, are a perfect example of which teams will benefit from this system. Owings Mills, which probably will battle Catonsville for second place in the Baltimore County 1A-2A League behind favorite Loch Raven, can now afford to lose games as the younger players learn, and not hurt its postseason chances.

Lansdowne, which will join Dulaney in chasing Perry Hall for the Baltimore County 3A-4A League title, is in the same position as Owings Mills. The Vikings now have a better shot at making the state semifinals for back-to-back years as a result of this playoff system.

"We have the talent, just not the experience yet," said the Vikings' Jason Dykstra, last year's All-Baltimore County/City coach of the year. "We now have time to obtain some court savvy."

However, other teams could feel cheated under the new format. Perry Hall and Severna Park could have the best records in Class 4A North but face each other in the first round.

But Perry Hall coach Pam Wilt will nevertheless take advantage of the regular season. "You now have time to find the right combination," Wilt said. "I now can use Erica [King] as a middle hitter or use her at times on the outside. I can also get a lot more people some playing time."

With the exception of Western and Walbrook, all of the public schools in Baltimore City are caught up in rebuilding seasons.

Chanel Wright (Western) and Jamie Greenwood (Walbrook), who have already made names for themselves in basketball, are expected to lead their teams.

The Catholic League will be very balanced this season, with Mercy emerging as the preseason favorite. Defending champion Seton Keough and Spalding should give the Sharpshooters a battle, and Catholic returns several proven players from a team that beat every other team in the league at least once last season.

Mount Carmel's varsity, a league member last season, will play a JV schedule within the league but varsity outside of it.

The Institute of Notre Dame will join the Catholic League as a member next year, and will schedule several league members this year.

The Association of Independent Schools will add one new team -- St. Paul's -- and five new coaches to a still-growing league in its second season.

Defending AIS champion Oldfields returns a solid lineup and should be the favorite.

If Oldfields falters, Maryvale, Bryn Mawr, Notre Dame Prep and Towson Catholic will all contend for the title.

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