From back row, Stephenson takes lead for Cavaliers Senior's fearless style is spark for S. Carroll

September 29, 1995|By JEFF SEIDEL | JEFF SEIDEL,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Don't get in Amy Stephenson's way on a volleyball court -- it could be hazardous to your health.

The South Carroll senior, who played a key role in the team's surprise run to the state finals last year, loves to do the dirty work on the court.

To save a ball, Stephenson, a back-row specialist, has no qualms about leaping, diving, sliding or doing anything else. In fact, Stephenson won't even blink about running into -- or bouncing off of -- the bleachers.

"I'm not afraid at all," said Stephenson.

xTC "I love it. It's unbelievable [and] it's a major rush if nobody thinks you're going to get to the ball and you get it over."

Stephenson plays a bigger role this season as the lone returning starter from last year's team.

In addition to her hard work saving shots, her good serving has helped the Cavaliers early this season.

South Carroll coach Debbie Eaton said before the season that she looked for Stephenson to provide some stability for her squad.

Making saves and digs are important, but often aren't the most popular tasks.

"She's very aggressive," said Eaton. "I can count on her to be there. I know if Amy is anywhere in the vicinity of the ball, she'll make a good play."

Stephenson, a 5-foot-4 senior, said she knows much of her work lacks glamour. Kills, blocks and other net action turn more heads. But she also realizes that the South Carroll offense can't get off the ground if the ball is on the ground.

"Amy keeps the ball in play," said Eaton. "Without the job Amy does, the hitters don't get a job to do, and the setters don't get a chance to set."

Stephenson did plenty of that last year on South Carroll's run to the state finals. She did a strong job of helping get the ball to Nicole Spencer and Melissa Gettemy, who dominated at the net throughout the postseason.

But Stephenson also helped with her serving. She recorded her two best serving matches of the season in the region semifinal (against Linganore) and final (Whitman).

Stephenson's often bullet-like serves helped her get 23 points against Linganore and another 21 against Whitman as the Cavaliers scored two five-game victories.

She finished with a team-high 186 points last season. This year, Stephenson again sparks the team with serves.

In a match on Tuesday with North Carroll, she came up with three aces as part of a 7-0 run that pulled the Cavaliers out of a Game 3 hole.

Helping pull the team out of a hole could be something Stephenson may have to do a little more of this season.

The Cavaliers are inexperienced, and Stephenson often acts as a team leader.

In the North Carroll match -- which the Cavaliers lost in four games but easily could have won in three -- Stephenson's leadership ability was clear. Throughout the match, she moved around the court, repeatedly encouraging her teammates.

"I want to help them in any way I can," said Stephenson, who is a captain.

Stephenson, who also plays basketball and softball, also tried to help herself since last season.

She hit the weights and greatly improved her quickness and strength -- saying she's much quicker and can more easily hit it over from the back row.

For South Carroll, this year is much like 1994. The Cavaliers started 3-6 last year and were 2-3 after the North Carroll loss.

But that does not faze Stephenson. Last year's team needed some time before everything clicked. Stephenson believes this year's squad can find success.

"[Last year] was great; I was overwhelmed and shocked," said Stephenson.

"We had never worked together so well. I don't care what our record is [this year], if we try our best and work together, we can do anything."

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