1997 All-Metro volleyball teams

November 26, 1997|By SUN STAFF

Player of the Year

Briana Zolak, Centennial, senior, hitter: The letter from Rutgers University was short and to the point. "It said that I didn't have the size, talent and national experience they were looking for," Zolak said. Zolak received the letter in September and put it up in her room where she could see it every day. "They actually did me a favor because it made me work harder," said the outside hitter, who stands 5 feet 8. "I look at it in the morning [5: 30 a.m.] before I run. When I sit up [in bed] it's the first thing I see, and that gets me out of bed." A four-year varsity player, Zolak helped Centennial win three state titles, but this season she clearly stood out. "There was pressure on her to be the leader, the one everybody looked at, and she never shrank back from that or said she didn't want it," said Centennial coach Mike Bossom. "She met the challenge and I think exceeded some people's expectations." Zolak pushes herself hard to be the best, and rarely is satisfied with everything she does in a match. But make no mistake, Zolak does a lot of things well. "She's one of the most complete players I've coached," said Bossom, who has seen many talented players in his four seasons at the Ellicott City school. Zolak is quick, hits the ball extremely hard, is smart and loves to hit the floor on defense (she led the team with 161 digs). The only junior on last year's All-Metro first team, Zolak had 20 point blocks and led the No. 1 Eagles in kills (216, three per game) and kill efficiency (.369). "She became a smarter hitter [this season] rather than someone that just hits hard," Bossom said. "If teams scouted us, they wouldn't know what shot to take away because she hit in different directions a lot." Zolak's intensity really picked up in the regional final and state tournament. "That's when she played her best," Bossom said. Her shots hit the floor with authority -- she tied the mark for kill efficiency (.545) in the state tournament -- and she hit the floor herself with tremendous defense. Some of the colleges that have shown an interest in Zolak include Maryland, Towson, Delaware and Georgetown. As for the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers: "I'd like to go to a school and play them," Zolak said.

Coach of the Year

Mike Bossom, Centennial: Bossom is a player's coach, whether it be practicing with the team -- something he loves to do -- or giving them the opportunity to change how a play is run. "It's our team," said Bossom. "We all have a say in what's going on out there." The 27-year-old Bossom, who was in Lake Placid, N.Y., last weekend as one of four finalists to coach the men's United States Disabled Volleyball Team in the 2000 Para Olympics in Sydney, Australia, has coached Howard County's Centennial to two straight unbeaten seasons and three state titles since taking over the program in 1994. The Eagles began last season No. 1 in The Sun poll, and they haven't relinquished that spot in two years, going 19-0 last year and 20-0 this season. "It's been fun, it really has," said Bossom, a physical education teacher at Baltimore County's Powhatan Elementary School. "You come to practice a little tired and their enthusiasm picks you up and gets you ready. They love to play and it shows. They work very hard and push themselves at every practice to be the best." Said Centennial's Zolak about Bossom: "He's pulled out the best in all us. He's done a great job." Bossom worked hard to challenge the talented Eagles, and succeeded by running a complex system that allows the players many options. Centennial made it look so easy at times because of its skill, work ethic and Bossom's direction. The Eagles will graduate seven players, but Bossom thinks the Centennial tradition -- seven straight county titles (11 overall) and six state titles over the past seven years -- can continue. "I expect us to be very competitive next year," said Bossom, who spends his summer playing two-man beach volleyball at Ocean City and also attends and runs a number of volleyball camps throughout the country.

First team at a glance

Lauren Boyd, Severna Park, junior, setter: "She's one of the most committed players I've ever had," said veteran Severna Park coach Tim Dunbar. "No matter how good her game is, she works to get better." Boyd "ran the whole show," said Dunbar, and she did it very well. Boyd, who is 5-6, led the second-ranked Falcons in assists (667, 9.4 per game), serving aces (73) and blocks (47), and was third in serving percentage (.923) and fourth in kills (63). She had 52 assists in the region final. "She can turn the most average pass into a very good set," Dunbar said. Dunbar said Boyd is smart -- "She knows where to place the ball" -- and intense -- "She takes everything very seriously." He also said Boyd "will make a good coach one day. She wants to understand why we're doing things. I've seen her at college matches and she's got paper and pen and she's taking notes. She's a tremendous student of the game."

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