VanDehei, Broadneck set to challenge Severna Park Tom Cole's return to coaching also should boost Bruins' fortunes

Local Sports: High School Volleyball Preview

September 04, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Amy VanDehei never wanted to be a volleyball player. Her arms ached every time she played the sport.

"I hated volleyball," said VanDehei, who joins Glen Burnie's Amy Hutson as one of the two top players in Anne Arundel County entering the 1996 season.

Basketball was always much more fun for the youngster who grew up in Ocala, Fla., where she finally gave volleyball a try in the ninth grade and tolerated the sport that first season.

But VanDehei never really liked the game until the following year when she played for Tom Cole at Broadneck High after moving with her family to the Annapolis area.

The 5-foot-11 Floridian was an instant hit with Cole and everyone else around the Broadneck team, playing an integral part in the team's march to a 12-2 record and a big upset victory over neighborhood-rival Severna Park that ended a 58-match winning streak for the Falcons.

The quiet and even sometimes shy VanDehei was used as a middle blocker, setter and hitter as a sophomore and played in the shadow of Kara Johnson.

However, nothing could prevent VanDehei from bolting into prominence as a junior when the team went through some tough times without Cole, who took a year off from coaching to watch his daughter play soccer.

The Bruins fell to an 8-5 record, but VanDehei put up some eye-popping stats and earned first-team All-County honors.

She missed only five serves in 13 matches for a 98 percent mark, had 150 kills and even won the hearts of opposing coaches such as Severna Park's Tim Dunbar for her play on the court and actions on and off the court.

"Amy VanDehei is absolutely a phenomenal kid and a phenomenal athlete," said Dunbar. "She has great leaping ability and does everything right on the court."

South River coach Maureen Carter said, "Amy's the best all-around player I've seen in a long time."

Carter got to see VanDehei perform often at a high level, coaching the Broadneck senior on the Capital Club volleyball team.

"Amy can set, jump, hit, and she's a smart player," said Carter.

The presence of VanDehei on the Broadneck team and the return of Cole to the sidelines makethe Bruins a strong threat to challenge defending county champion and last season's Baltimore metro area No. 1 team Severna Park for superiority in Arundel this season.

Cole conceded that VanDehei was one of the main reasons he agreed to return as Broadneck coach.

"I'm back because we have a good group of seniors, including Amy, Leigh Godfrey, Pam Barr and Laura McKechnie," said Cole. "Amy is a super kid. The best thing about her is her attitude. I need her to step up, take charge and be a leader. You know who our go-to girl will be. I know teams will be ganging up to stop her, but I think she can overcome that with her leaping ability and intelligence."

Cole called VanDehei one of the best athletes at Broadneck and in the county, a well-deserved tag gained by her averaging six points and 15 rebounds on the basketball team last season and holding the school's girls high jump record with a 5-foot-4 leap in the Broadneck Invitational last spring.

In addition to her quest to knock off Severna Park on the way to the county championship this season, VanDehei has developed a rivalry with Hutson, who is the third of three Hutson sisters to excel in volleyball at Glen Burnie.

"Amy is a super player and real sweet off the court," said VanDehei. "But on the court, she becomes aggressive and says things like 'in your face' when she kills a ball."

VanDehei said that Hutson is following in the tradition of her two older talented sisters, Christy and Heather.

Christy and Heather have both played volleyball at Towson State, where VanDehei might wind up playing next season if she doesn't "go out west" to college.

"Towson State is perfect for me because I want to major in elementary education," said the Bruins' standout. "But I really want to go out west, possibly to Utah."

Amy Hutson and Glen Burnie won the North Division title last season but got wiped out by Severna Park in the county championship match.

Many of the seniors who helped Hutson last season have departed, leaving Hutson as virtually a one-person show for the Gophers, who sometimes had trouble setting for Hutson last year.

"Amy might be setting for us this year," said Glen Burnie coach Juanita Milani.

Pub Date: 9/04/96

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