Kaltreider, team grow together Volleyball: Mount Hebron players, coach have gotten beyond their differences and find that winning does away with cliques, frustration.

October 15, 1998|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

Kristina Kaltreider was at a loss. A talented player, she felt she was going nowhere fast.

"My sophomore and junior years weren't as good as I wanted them to be. I just felt I wasn't doing the best I could," said Kaltreider, a senior on Mount Hebron's second-ranked volleyball team. "I think it was partly because of the coach. She was new and really didn't know what she was doing. I felt I couldn't improve, and I really wanted to. There was a lot of frustration."

Mount Hebron coach Kedre Fairley acknowledges those first two seasons were difficult.

"I agree the leadership that she needed her sophomore and junior year was not there," Fairley said. "Kristina and I grew up together -- me learning how to coach and her learning how to play. Coaching for me did not come naturally."

Now, two years of anxiety has been replaced by tranquillity. Fairley has become a better coach, and the team is more together.

"She's changed a lot, and it's made me a better player and the team better," Kaltreider said of Fairley. "It's definitely been more positive."

Reflecting on last season, Kaltreider said "it didn't seem people were as serious" and that there were "a lot of cliques."

That's not the case this season.

"Working together is the key, and that's what we've been doing," said Kaltreider, a 5-8 outside hitter who leads the team in kills (104) and aces (34) and has one of the county's hardest shots. "It's definitely less frustrating; we don't have any problems on the team. I feel I'm playing better because of that. It's so much easier to play better when you're not worrying about other things."

The Vikings (10-0 overall, 8-0 league) have only one thing on their mind today -- beating visiting, fourth-ranked Centennial (6-2, 6-1) in a 5 p.m. match. The Vikings ended Centennial's 31-match victory streak against county teams with a five-game decision Sept. 26.

"They're going to be out to get us," said Kaltreider.

And she'll be ready.

"I love matches like that. They're so intense," Kaltreider said. "They can go either way. Against Centennial, everyone tries their best and gives everything they have."

Kaltreider has improved her game two ways this season: smarts and consistency.

"I'm playing smarter," said Kaltreider, who, though not a captain, definitely is a leader on the court. "Instead of just trying to crush the ball every time, I place it and tip and try to get easy points, no matter if it looks good or not."

She also has worked on becoming more consistent.

"I'm definitely a lot better with that," Kaltreider said. "Before I use to let it get to me, and I'd get really, really frustrated with myself. I'm more focused -- it's easier to be because everyone else is, too."

"I'm very happy with the way she is playing," Fairley said.

Kaltreider is the youngest of three volleyball-playing sisters who have attended Mount Hebron. Lia is now a senior at Towson University, and Sylvia is a St. Mary's College junior. Both are succeeding in college.

Kaltreider feels under the gun to perform just as well.

"Definitely. There's a lot of pressure," Kaltreider said. "Not really for volleyball but the grades. They had really good grades, and there's definitely a lot of pressure on me to be just as successful. It's really hard. I just try my best not to let it get to me."

Kaltreider has a B average and is interested in graphics design and elementary education. She wants to continue playing volleyball in college and is interested in Elon College in North Carolina.

For all the frustration and disappointment the last two years have brought, Kaltreider knows this year could be special.

"This team is capable of winning a title. It can go all the way," said Kaltreider, who was a freshman on Mount Hebron's Class 3A state championship team. "I want to end on a good note."

Pub Date: 10/15/98

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