Freeman, S. River shooting for top Volleyball: Jessica Freeman and senior-dominated South River hope to deliver on season's great expectations.


September 20, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

For senior standout Jessica Freeman and her South River volleyball teammates, this season brings some unfinished business.

With a junior-dominated team led by Freeman last year, the Seahawks were a big surprise as they reached the Class 2A state semifinals. With those juniors now seniors this go-around, eight in all, expectations are now higher.

It all starts with Freeman, a 6-foot outside hitter who made the jump to first-team All-County last season after taking honorable mention as a sophomore.

"Jessica has been more aggressive and more of a leader -- she's made that progression," said South River coach Maureen Carter, who returned to the helm after being on maternity leave last season.

"She knows she's a big part of the team and knows she has to perform well," Carter said. "She gives me exactly what I expect of her -- she always delivers."

Last season, Freeman averaged two kills a game, succeeded on 90 percent of her serves and 86 percent on her passes. She was often at her best in big matches, including the Seahawks' four-game win over North Caroline to capture the East region title. She made 13 kills and had 18 digs as the Seahawks came back that night after losing the opening game.

Freeman would like nothing better than a return trip to the state tournament, but she knows plenty of work must be done first. With fellow senior hitter Caroline Tippett out of the lineup in the early going because of illness, the No. 6-ranked Seahawks are off to a so-so 2-2 start, their last match being a solid, three-game win over Chesapeake.

"Things are looking pretty good. We're trying to work out some kinks on defense, and it's getting a lot better," said Freeman. "We all have to be working together as one. And we try our best to all get along and play our hearts out."

Freeman, also a three-year varsity basketball player for the Seahawks, started playing volleyball in eighth grade. Carter took notice of her athleticism and height as a freshman, putting her on varsity right from the start. Freeman saw little action her first season, but the experience paid off.

"She was on varsity from Day 1. That year, we had a lot of seniors, and I thought it would benefit her to practice and learn from the older players," said Carter. "I saw a lot of promise from Jessica, and someone I could build around in the future."

Plenty of talent shares the court with Freeman now, including senior setter Lorin Smith. The two have played together since eighth grade and have been friends for much longer.

"We've been neighbors for 10 years, so there's a really good bond. Our parents always say how we connect so well on the court. I just know she's always going to get to the ball. She's my outlet, and I know I can go to her, whether she's in the front row or back row," said Smith.

Freeman is still working on hitting. A hitters camp at George Washington University during the off-season has helped with her approaches and arm swing.

"For me, it's about not over-running the ball, getting the timing down, a good follow-through, and finishing with the wrists up," said Freeman.

Carter is counting on Freeman's complete game to help bring the Seahawks plenty of wins this season.

"She has a hard hit and brings a lot of experience and court sense," the coach said. "We're going to be looking at her a lot. She's a fighter who doesn't quit."

Pub Date: 9/20/98

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