1998 All Baltimore City/County volleyball teams

November 25, 1998|By Katherine Dunn

Player of the Year

Greichaly Cepero, McDonogh, senior, setter: A transfer from Puerto Rico, Cepero was widey considered one of the best ever to play high school volleyball in this area. UCLA and Nebraska are heavily recruiting her to play both volleyball and basketball and with good reason -- she is rated one of the top 10 high school volleyball players in the nation and one of the top 50 basketball players. The Eagles certainly benefitted from her exceptional skills and her extensive experience. The 6-foot-3 Cepero averaged 7.7 assists for the No. 12 Eagles (13-2) and led them unbeaten through the Association of Independent Schools A Division regular season. Although the Eagles lost the AIS Tournament final to Friends in a three-game sweep, Cepero did all she could to keep them in the match. She had 23 assists and 13 kills (nearly a third of her season total), contributing to 36 of the Eagles' 45 kills in the match. An exceptional athlete with a perfect touch on the ball, Cepero could set almost any pass exactly where the hitter wanted it. She set 635 times and had 357 assists, but Cepero could also hit with power. She had 41 kills and an attack percentage of 89. She also had 26 solo blocks and 20 block assists. "She made everyone better," said Eagles coach Ginger Gelston, who did not know Cepero was coming to McDonogh until she walked onto the court in August. "Her skills are by far the highest level and she raised the level of everyone on the team. She ran the offense and she directed the team. She had the ability to lift everyone else up. Instead

of getting frustrated with the lower level of play, she kept everything positive."

Coach of the Year

Debbie Hanley, Mt. Carmel: Until this season, the Cougars had never had a winning varsity record, but that did not stop them from contending for the Catholic League championship. After going 8-13 last year, the Cougars rebounded to finish 13-5, reach the league tournament semifinals and flirt with a spot in the Top 15. During the regular season, the Cougars upset both of the tournament finalists, eventual champ and No. 13 Mercy as well as runner-up and No. 14 Spalding. Hanley, who coached the Cougars from 1990 through 1993 and 1996 through 1998, nearly missed it all. After giving birth to her second child in the middle of last season, she had planned not to return in 1998. Her five returning seniors talked her into coming back. "I told this group when they were sophomores they were going to be the best team Mt. Carmel ever had," said Hanley, who commutes to the Essex school from Bel Air. "I guess it was selfish on my part, but I wanted to come back one more time." In their first match, the Cougars beat defending champ Mercy. Hanley looked back three years to the foundation for their success -- back to when the Cougars were playing a JV schedule. After getting pounded on the varsity level, the Cougars dropped to JV status in 1994. In 1996 when the current seniors were sophomores, they won the JV title. Last year, they moved back up to the varsity level. From there, the Cougars kept improving, guided by Hanley's basic coaching philosophy. "I try to be very positive. After each match we go over what's good and what's bad and I make sure my list of good things is longer than my list of bad things. I'm not a big proponent of yelling at the kids. I think you get a whole lot further being positive and building up their confidence. Then, they're much more receptive to criticism."

First team at a glance

Jill Bishop, Loch Raven, senior, hitter: Despite missing 10 days with mononucleosis, Bishop set a new school record for kills in a season with 212. A second-team pick last year, she averaged 3.92 kills per game for the No. 6 Raiders (15-3). The 5-11 outside hitter ranked as one of the county's most powerful threats. She had an 89 percent hitting efficiency rate and 50 percent of her hits were kills. She also had 16 blocks, served at 92 percent and was a strong passer.

Selina Gaskins, Western, senior, hitter: The most consistent player in the Baltimore City league, Gaskins led the Doves (16-2) to the city championship. A smart, quick middle hitter, she averaged 2.2 kills per game. Gaskins had some of her best efforts in the big games including 13 kills in the city title victory over Poly. With excellent instincts at the net, she was also a key blocker. She served at 90 percent and averaged 1.8 aces per game.

Teresa Graham, Dulaney, senior, hitter: Half of a powerful attacking pair for the No. 3 Lions (17-1), Graham averaged 2.1 kills per game and 42 percent of her hits were kills. She had 96 total kills as well as 27 blocks. The 5-5 Graham also played excellent defense with 90 saving digs. She served at 91 percent with 63 aces. Graham helped the Lions win their second straight Baltimore County title and go unbeaten against county competition.

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