Carroll County volleyball previews

September 04, 1997|By John W. Stewart

Carroll Christian Patriots

1996 record: 14-2

Coach: Judy Mied

Top players: Jodi Beard, senior; LeighAnn Belcher, junior

Outlook: Less one senior and one transition move, this will be the same team that went unbeaten in the regular season for a second straight year, then lost in the state championship and in the regional. This time, Mied predicts the team will go through that stretch undefeated, and the sights are on reaching the national tournament. Belcher is a consistent setter and a fine hitter, and Beard, one of three senior starters, is a dominant middle hitter. The latter's strengths are spiking, defensive coverage, and leadership. Without a lot of height, the early emphasis has been on defense.

Francis Scott Key Eagles

1996 record: 19-1

Coach: Alice Smith

Top players: Heather Abel, senior; Jessica Broderick, junior; Stephanie Robertson, junior; Tammy Wilson, senior; Carrie Weant, junior

Outlook: Abel, a second-team All-County selection a year ago, is the lone returning starter from last year's Class 1A state championship team and one of just three seniors on an 11-player squad. Although only 5-foot-6, she has an excellent vertical leap and will be used as a hitter and in the backcourt defense. The other seniors are Tammy Wilson, a back-row player who had a 98 percent serve accuracy last year, and Erin Carter, an outside hitter who has come along nicely in pre-season. Smith, the JV coach the last four years, was elevated to head coach when Leo Totten resigned. Not only are there holdovers from a year ago, but most of the squad were members of Smith's successful JV program (24-2 the last two years). One potential starter is freshman Carrie Ness, sister of Erin Ness, a vital cog in last year's championship run. The only loss then was to Williamsport, an outcome that was reversed in the state final.

Liberty Lions

1996 record: 11-5

Coach: Dave Trumbo

Top players: Emily Stuard, senior; Laurie Meadows, senior; ShenPoehlman, senior; Abby Barnett, junior; Jen Bruce, junior

Outlook: With four senior graduates (none taller than 5-foot-4) went the top two setters and the county championship team's strength of setting and passing. This team has only three seniors, and of the veterans, middle hitter Stuard, 5-9, a second team All-County selection, is expected to be the top hitter; Barnett, 5-8, the top blocker, and Meadows, the key setter. Good pre-season competition has indicated depth, and the team is taller than a year ago. Says Trumbo of his mix of veterans and newcomers: "If we can pass and the chemistry comes together, we will win."

North Carroll Panthers

1996 record: 14-4

Coach: Lloyd Ford

Top players: Jen Geiman, senior; Jeannie Passano, senior; Sara Clark, junior; Kate Wall, junior

Outlook: Geiman, a setter, and Wall, a hitter, could be a strong combination, but the key will be replacing five graduates who helped guide the Panthers to a regional final last year. Lloyd is looking for some seniors and JV graduates to fill these vacancies.

South Carroll Cavaliers

1996 record: 10-5

Coach: Debbie Eaton

Top players: Caron Culver, senior; Kim Lewis, senior; Tina Miller, senior; Mandy South, senior

Outlook: These seniors are being counted on as the nucleus for what should be a team that shows steady improvement. With no starters from last year back and this year's seniors having seen only limited playing time then, the task will be blending the group.

Westminster Owls

1996 record: 5-10

Coach: Michele Crouse

Top players: Katie Righter, senior; Jessica Bracken, senior

Outlook: Crouse, who coached the Owls three years ago, returns to what appears to be a well-balanced league with players of similar skills. The 6-1 Righter, third team All-County a year ago, is a middle hitter, and Bracken an outside hitter. Players here, as well as on other teams, have benefited from a new club program with a larger number of players involved. The result is more candidates with improved basic skills -- hard workers with positive attitudes. Success will depend upon how quickly the group comes together. "We may surprise some teams," says Crouse.

Volleyball poll

`

Preseason Top 15

1. Centennial

2. Severna Park

3. Glenelg

4. Dulaney

5. Loch Raven

6. Perry Hall

7. Catonsville

8. Mount Hebron

9. River Hill

10. South River

11. Mercy

12. Hammond

13. Glen Burnie

14. Western

15. Francis Scott Key

The preseason poll was chosen by The Sun staff after consulting with area coaches.

Pub Date: 9/04/97

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