1997 All-Baltimore City/County volleyball teams

November 19, 1997|By KATHERINE DUNN

Player of the Year

Stephanie Hansen, Mercy, senior, hitter: With Hansen at the helm, the Magic went unbeaten through the Catholic League. Not only did she lead her team to a second straight tournament championship, but she also boosted the Magic (23-2) to the No. 6 ranking, its highest ever in The Sun's Top 15. The Catholic League Player of the Year, Hansen had a spectacular power game. The 6-foot outside hitter had 313 kills, averaging 4.4 per game. That was up from 2.8 a year ago. At the prestigious North Caroline Bulldog Tournament in October, Hansen averaged five kills per game against some of the state's top competition, including No. 1 Centennial. In the three-game Catholic League title-match sweep of Spalding, Hansen had nine kills. "Steph's hitting was three times better this year," said coach John Singleton. "Last year, she would sometimes approach and blow it out. This year, she put the ball down. There were times she put the ball down inside the 10-foot line. She was 100 percent more confident this year." Hansen finished with a 60 percent kill efficiency. She had 42 blocks and served at 87 percent with 62 aces. Hansen, an All-Metro second-team pick last year, sparked the Magic not only with her play on the court, but with her attitude off the court. "Not only did she lead the team, she made the team have fun," said Singleton. "She eased the pressure of being a winning team and of having an undefeated [Catholic League] season. She really did lead the team to victory."

Coach of the Year

John Singleton, Mercy: In his first two seasons as a high school head coach, Singleton led the Magic to back-to-back Catholic League tournament titles. Last year, the Magic shared the regular-season title, but this fall it swept through the league unbeaten. Previously a U.S. Volleyball Association player and referee, Singleton brought Mercy up to elite status among local teams. The Magic (23-2) finished this season at No. 6, the highest final ranking by a Baltimore city or county team this fall. "This was the most satisfying season I've ever had coaching anywhere, any time with respect to my girls," said Singleton, who has coached on the recreation level. "I had fun. We didn't take anything too seriously. We had ups and we had downs, but we just continued to get better and better." Singleton continued to schedule the toughest competition he could, suffering only two early match losses to No. 7 Dulaney and No. 9 Lansdowne, both of which were ranked higher at the time. Although he had strong leaders in Stephanie Hansen, Michelle Russell and Chris Jagielski, he also made the most of his depth. Every girl on the team played at least 45 games and Singleton got steady contributions from everyone, including his daughter Tara, a sophomore. "When I first came here I heard a lot of 'I'm sorry' if someone shanked a pass or something. I got rid of that. My saying is 'Next time.' Volleyball is a game that's in front of you, not in back of you. You can't worry about what happened. You've got to go forward," said Singleton, whose career record at Mercy is 40-3.

First team at a glance

Marci Brewer, Catonsville, senior, hitter: The catalyst for the Comets, Brewer led her team in almost every aspect but especially with her power game. She finished with 141 kills, averaging 2.9 per game. An intense player with great court coverage, Brewer also led the team in passing and digs. She served at 91.9 percent with 31 aces. A three-year starter, Brewer was named All-Baltimore County.

Jody Costa, Dulaney, senior, hitter: In leading the No. 7 Lions to the Baltimore County championship, the middle hitter had 128 kills, but she was as well known for her serving and defense as for her power game. Costa missed only seven serves all season, hitting 97.7 percent of them, including 70 aces. The Lions' best passer, Costa played exceptional defense in the back row and at the net, where she had 45 blocks. Named All-Baltimore County, Costa averaged 2.12 kills per game.

Sarah Flora, Loch Raven, senior, hitter: Flora elevated her game in the playoffs to lead the No. 9 Raiders to the state Class 2A semifinals. She had 45 kills in the regional playoffs, including 14 in the title-match upset of No. 8 Lansdowne. The middle hitter finished with 181 kills for a 2.87 per-game average. The Raiders relied on her versatility as a hitter as well as her defensive strength at the net, where she had 72 blocks. Flora posted a .775 hitting percentage. She also served at 81.7 percent and had 53 aces.

Chris Happel, Lansdowne, senior, hitter: The most dominant middle hitter in Baltimore County, the 6-2 Happel came up with kills on 42.8 percent of her hits. She finished with a total of 121 kills, averaging 1.8 per game for the No. 8 Vikings. With only 29 hitting errors, she had an .865 hitting percentage. Her net defense also proved stellar with 100 blocks for a 1.5 per-game average. A three-year varsity starter, she was named All-Baltimore County.

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