J. Carroll learns to be volleyball winners

November 06, 1994|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Sun Staff Writer

Summer development camps, with high-powered training in physical and mental skills, turned John Carroll's losing girls volleyball team into a county champion.

That's the opinion of coach Greg Cullison, whose team went from the bottom of the Harford County League to the top in three seasons.

Heather Pyzik and Laura Dembiec were the only seniors, and as three-year starters were able to enjoy the thrill of winning after knowing the misery of defeat.

"I attribute their success to experience," Cullison said. "We had one in a Junior Olympic program, a couple who went to camps the past two summers, and a couple who went last summer. As a result, we're getting better athletes, and ones who take it more seriously than in the past."

Last year, the records were 3-5 in the league, 5-9 overall, and last week the Patriots finished 9-0 in the league, 10-3 overall. The losses were to Liberty, Catholic and Tome, and Tome was beaten in a second meeting.

The team was built around Pyzik and Dembiec. They played well in previous seasons, but had little support. This time, Charlotte Wills, a summer camper, and one of three sophomore regulars, came along to be the setter. It freed the other two to concentrate on hitting, and Pyzik wound up having an outstanding season, one that included 111 kills and 38 aces.

Others included juniors Jenny Blume, Alex Stawicki and Liz Donarum, and sophomores Shani Lee and Courtney Krasowski.

"All were pretty steady players, and our bench support was such that if one or two starters were having bad days, we could put subs in and they'd be just fine," Cullison said.

"Before the season started, I saw what I had and told them the county championship was possible. I had confidence in them."

The turning point -- at least the confidence-builder -- came in late September, when the Patriots were down two games at home against defending champion Edgewood and rallied to win. They followed this with winning five-game matches against Bel Air, Harford Tech and C. Milton Wright.

No opponent scored more than six points in the fifth game, and the victory over Bel Air was the first against the Bobcats in school history.

"That was conditioning and poise," Cullison said.

* John Carroll's boys volleyball team completed a 9-0 league season (43-1 overall dating back to 1991), and won the county title for the fifth time in the last seven years. With four juniors in the starting lineup, the team should be strong again next year, too.

"This team was very athletic and the most advanced of any I've had," said coach Herb Simon. "It's getting to be a tradition. Each team wants to be better than the previous one."

Senior hitter Matt Gradishar is the leader, along with senior setter Paul Kim, and junior Mike Babiak. Other junior regulars included Tim DeCapite, Scott Kaufmann, Mike Penrose, Greg Grabowski and Jan Gutzmann, plus senior Dan Park.

Overall, the caliber of league play improved, with such teams as Fallston, North Harford, Havre de Grace and C. Milton Wright having good young teams. This was particularly true of Havre de Grace, which compiled a 9-5 record as a first-year program.

Fallston

Kristy Heron of Fallston entered the county football record book 10 days ago when she became the first girl to compete in a regular game. After Craig Strobel had missed an attempted extra point after the Cougars' first touchdown against North Harford, coach Dave Cesky sent in Heron the next chance he had.

Heron's kick was down the middle for a 13-6 advantage. The Hawks later tied the game and won it in overtime. Although the first county player, there have been other girls who played in the past elsewhere, including a kicker-holder combination in Montgomery County.

Aberdeen

Aberdeen High School needs a basketball date for its boys varsity and junior varsity teams, Dec. 13-16. Information may be obtained from Athletic Director George Connolly, (410) 273-5500 Ext. 311).

Bel Air

Bel Air, coached by Bill Georg, won the county junior varsity boys soccer championship with a 7-0 record, outscoring the opposition, 32-0. Overall, its record was 10-1-1 (54-4 goal differential), including a 1-0 loss at Centennial and a 2-2 tie at Wilde Lake.

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