Teams at a glance

September 02, 1999|By Pat O'Malley

Annapolis Panthers

1998 record: 2-15

Coach: Karla McMahon, 10th season

Top players: Meghan Fisher, Sr., outside hitter; Misty Waters, Jr., setter; Ashley Bland, Sr., outside hitter; Christy Kehoe, So., setter.

Outlook: Following the 14-2 banner season of 1997, the Panthers slipped badly in '98 the result of graduation losses. McMahon is optimistic her team can turn it around this season with serving and the blend of two experienced varsity players in Fisher and Waters with a young nucleus. "We don't have a lot of height and middle blocker, but we hope to make it for that with hustle and strong serving, " said McMahon. "I'm counting on a few younger players to contribute." Despite being a senior, Bland is a newcomer and joins Kehoe, sophomore Danielle Tucker and junior Tiesha Hopkins as bright newcomers.

Annapolis Area Christian Eagles

1998 record: 15-5

Coach: Dave Leith, third season

Top players: Ashleigh Verrillo, Sr., setter; Ruth Woodward, Sr., outside hitter; Becky Evans, Sr., setter/hitter; Dani Matousek, So., outside hitter; Christy DeHencel, So., outside hitter.

Outlook: After going 33-8 over the last two seasons as an independent, Leith is rebuilding. The coach is counting on his three returning varsity players, the 5-6 Verrillo, who he says is "the best setter in the county," and outside hitters Woodward and Evans for leadership and production. "After scrimmaging, I'm a little more optimistic than I was," said Leith, who has employed the 6-2 swing offense. JV grads Matousek (5-5) and DeHencel (5-10) should contribute. The Eagles play five county public schools, Chesapeake, Meade, Northeast, Old Mill and Glen Burnie. AACS also hopes to enter a Severna Park tournament later this month. "It will be interesting to see how we fare against the caliber of teams like Severna Park," said Leith, who wants to be in a league by next year.

Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers

1998 record: 15-4

Coach: Scott Rombach, second season

Top players: Jen Datz, Sr., hitter/setter; Kristin Marll,, So. hitter; Bridget LaPorte, Sr., defense; Cristy Lynch, Jr., defense.

Outlook: Rombach succeeds Linda Taylor for the second time in two seasons, this time for good. Last year Rombach, a veteran JV coach, coached the varsity for several weeks while Taylor was on maternity leave. Taylor, who remains the school's softball coach, has since resigned as volleyball coach after 10 seasons and a career record of 109-35. Rombach hopes to carry on the winning tradition established by Taylor who won nine regular season or tournament championships in the Catholic League. "With the merger of the Catholic and Independent leagues, we have a lot of unanswered question marks but should do fairly well, as in the past," said Rombach. He's banking on second-team All-County hitter/setter Datz for leadership and is excited about the potential shown by Marll and defensive specialists LaPorte and Lynch. Newcomer Kacie Kagalis, a junior setter, is also expected to contribute.

Arundel Wildcats

1998 record: 11-7

Coach: Greg Legrand, second season

Top players: Sara Meger, Sr., outside hitter; Leslie Chandler, Jr., setter; Najimah Fauntleroy, Jr., middle hitter; Kelly Moore, Jr., outside hitter; Melissa Scott, Jr., defense.

Outlook: Legrand made quite a debut last season, turning an 0-15 team into an 11-7 squad to earn Sun County Coach of the Year honors. It was Arundel's first winning season since 1990, and the 11 wins were half of the number they won in five previous seasons (22-58). Legrand, a Maryland grad, put in a 6-2 swing offense that stacks the front line on one side and rotates to free up the hitters. The scheme confused opponents and occasionally the referees. Legrand hopes to hone it this season with Chandler setting up and Meger, Moore and Fauntleroy, a 6-foot All-County basketball forward as a sophomore, handling the bulk of the attack. "We lost a lot of seniors but have a good nucleus to replace them," said Legrand. "Our team is not very volleyball knowledgeable, but they are athletic. So it's a matter of how quick they can develop their skills. We expect to have a pretty good season."

Broadneck Bruins

1998 record: 10-5

Coach: Romanzo Beans, third season

Top players: Nicole Barr, Jr., setter; Alice Osborne, Sr., middle hitter; Katie Henschel, Sr., outside hitter; Jen Kanach, Sr., hitter; Angela Kahler, Jr., middle hitter.

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