By word, deed, Patrick force behind River Hill

Volleyball: Senior captain Shannon Patrick hasn't missed a beat with her play or her chatter as she's led her team to a 12-2 overall record and a county-championship matchup with Mount Hebron tomorrow night.

November 02, 1999|By Stan Rappaport | Stan Rappaport,SUN STAFF

It's not difficult to spot Shannon Patrick when River Hill, The Sun's second-ranked volleyball team, takes the floor.

The 5-foot-8 senior is in constant motion -- with her feet and her mouth.

"She's always having fun, giving people high-fives and being loud," said senior teammate Lisa Humphrey. "She gets us pumped up and makes sure we're all together and focused on what we're supposed to do."

And if it looks like Patrick is enjoying herself, she is. "I love being a captain. I love being a leader," she said. "I like it that people respect me and look up to me."

So Patrick goes on the court and tries to "lighten things up by joking around," she said. "I try to keep everyone positive."

River Hill defeated Hammond last night, 15-2, 15-6, 16-14, to finish 12-2 overall and 12-1 in the county. River Hill and Centennial finished tied for first (7-1) in their division, but the Hawks earned the right to advance to the county championship game because they beat the Eagles five out of eight games this season.

River Hill will play host to Mount Hebron, the defending county champion, at 7 tomorrow night for the county title ($4 admission).

River Hill is enjoying its finest season since it opened in 1996, and, not coincidentally, so is Patrick. She has taken her play to a higher level, and the Hawks have followed.

River Hill coach Sybil Modispacher sees in every match how important Patrick's leadership is to the team.

"If she falls apart, everyone else is going to. Or if she stops laughing and joking and having a good time, everyone else follows suit," Modispacher said. "So for me, my job is to keep her up."

Or, as it happened earlier this season, sit her down.

"I yanked her at Atholton," Modispacher said. "I sat her down and sternly talked to her. It's simple, if she's not where she needs to be, then the whole team is going to follow. She's the person they follow."

Though Patrick revels in the leadership role, that doesn't mean it's always easy.

"There's a lot of pressure being a captain and being a top player," said Patrick, who averages five kills per game and has 109 service aces. "Everyone watches you and expects so much out of you.

"There are days when I walk into practice and that's the last place I want to be. But I know if I act like I don't want to be there then everyone else will act like that and then it's going to be so unproductive. I just try to put it behind me and try my hardest."

Patrick and the team's other seniors -- Humphrey, Kristin Dahlen and Carrie Kelehan -- are four-year varsity players. And while the other three also play other sports, Patrick, as Humphrey said, "is all about volleyball."

Patrick, who has attended many summer camps, has matured as a player and improved her skills. Her most noticeable improvement is in her court sense.

"Even when she was a freshman, she had a strong hit, but she would hit it to people," Modispacher said. "Now when she goes up, I can see her body getting ready to hit cross, and within that fraction of a second she'll see an opening line and she'll hit it there, instead. It's rare for a kid to see the whole court as well as she does."

Said Patrick: "I can see the court really well. When I go up to hit, I look for the seams and then I go up and hit away. I think hitting is the thing I've improved on the most. Going up and crushing the ball, it's an amazing feeling to get a kill. I love it."

Patrick enjoys all aspects of the game. She excels on defense and passing, and the University of Wyoming is recruiting her as a defensive specialist.

Patrick, who has three dogs at home and wants to become a veterinarian, said she wants to play at "the biggest [Division I] level I can play. I told [college coaches] straight up that I don't want to sit as a freshman. I want to go somewhere where I can make an impact right away."

She certainly has made an impact at River Hill.

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