1996 All-Metro volleyball team

November 27, 1996

Player of the Year

Meredith Price, Centennial, senior, hitter: The 5-foot-11 Price was the best player on the area's best team. She did it all -- hit for power, passed well and played great defense. "She's just a great all-around player," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom, whose team won the Class 3A state title. "She's very driven to succeed and has worked hard to be as good as she is." Price, the only senior on the No. 1-ranked Eagles (19-0), led the team with 192 kills (3.15 average) and a .482 hitting average. Her kill shot accuracy was a very good 34 percent. She was second on the team in blocks (24), second in serve accuracy (88 percent), fourth in aces (30) and was the top serve-receive passer. Price, a three-year starter, was the team's go-to hitter, and her experience and leadership helped carry the talented Eagles to their sixth state title. "She's one of the best players I've had the pleasure of coaching," said Bossom. Price, in four years as a varsity player, won four county and three region and state titles. The straight-A student committed last night to attend and play for North Carolina State University.

Coach of the Year

Susan Costello, Kenwood: Two years ago, Kenwood went 1-10. Last year, the Bluebirds improved to 11-3. This season, they went 18-2 and won the school's first region title. "I'm extremely proud of what we've accomplished," said Costello, who played volleyball at Loch Raven (1983 graduate) and the University of Delaware (1987 graduate). "This is definitely the highlight of my coaching career." Costello, who has been coach at Kenwood for five seasons, credits the players for the turn-around. "It was the dedication and the drive of the kids themselves. I was there to guide them, but they were very self-motivated." As her players have improved steadily, Costello has grown as a coach, too. Intense at the beginning of her career and expecting too much from players who lacked good skills, Costello has mellowed. "I'm not a screamer anymore," Costello said. "I've learned to relax and let the kids play at the best of their ability." The Bluebirds went unbeaten through Baltimore County's Division II, but more surprising, they scored a stunning early-season victory over perennial power Loch Raven. The Bluebirds met Loch Raven again in the county championship but couldn't manage a second upset, losing in four games. Costello, who will lose six seniors (five starters) from this year's team, said she "wasn't even looking at the county championship" when the season began. "I just wanted to have a successful season. I told the girls our main goal was to have fun. I wanted them to learn the game and to learn to love it -- and at the end, they did."

The first team

Briana Zolak, Centennial, junior, hitter: She emerged this season as one of Howard county's best -- and hardest -- hitters. She had 153 kills (2.6 average), a .472 hitting percentage and made 84 percent of her serves (35 aces). "She's a very intense player," Centennial coach Mike Bossom said. "She gives 100 percent all of the time." Like her teammate Price, the 5-foot-8 Zolak also has a very good overall game. She passes well, is very aggressive defensively, has good quickness and can jump very well. Zolak has good techniques, and a very fast arm swing.

Kerry Quinn, Mount Hebron, senior, setter: First-year coach Kedre Fairley admired Quinn because she was "willing to take risks." Quinn helped the Vikings to the Class 3A state title last year and was the leader behind this year's seventh-ranked team (13-4) that lost three times to top-ranked Centennial. Her experience and intelligence made Quinn an exceptional setter, and her competitiveness was the driving force behind Mount Hebron's success. She made 89 percent of her serves and had 27 aces. Fairly said that if she had had another setter she would have made Quinn a hitter because of her strong shot. "As a new coach it was nice to have her on my side," Fairley said. "I'm going to miss her terribly."

Stephanie Stambaugh, Francis Scott Key: A four-year starter, the 6-foot middle hitter finished the season with 221 kills and 85 blocks. "Of all her skills, hitting is what she does best," said Key coach Leo Totten. "She has really good court sense and knows where the open spots are." Stambaugh, who is a two-time Carroll County Player of the Year, helped Key to four region titles and two appearances in the Class 1A state final. The Eagles, runners-up last year, defeated Williamsport for the title this season. "She's very competitive," Totten said. "In big games, she rises to the occasion and brings the rest of the team with her."

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