All-Baltimore City/County Volleyball Teams

November 30, 1999

Player of the Year

Erin Reinhardt, Dulaney, senior, setter: The most valuable player for the unbeaten Class 4A state champion Lions, Reinhardt ran the show with her precise sets, calm demeanor and upbeat attitude. She had 548 assists, 52 in the marathon, five-game state-title victory over Montgomery Blair. The 5-foot-6, three-year starter averaged 9.4 assists a game, boosting that to 10.4 in postseason. She served at 96 percent, averaging 1.3 aces a game. The No. 3-ranked Lions (20-0) won more points on her serve than anyone else's. "She's the cog that makes the engine run so smoothly," said Lions coach Ian Blanchard. "When everything else is falling apart around her, when we can't pass, Erin's there to make the set." Blanchard switched from using two setters to using only Reinhardt this season, and she thrived in the pivotal role. With her quickness, she could get to almost any ball, setting even the most difficult passes. When she couldn't use both hands, her accurate bump sets or one-handed sets made the Lions' attack that much more potent. "She's not flashy, but she gets the job done," said Blanchard. "She exudes confidence in herself and in her teammates. The most important thing she does is make all the other kids around her better. She takes a lot of the responsibility of the team on her shoulders. Losing Erin is going to be the single largest loss this program has taken in the last three years." Reinhardt, who carried a 3.7 grade-point average and was Dulaney's homecoming queen this fall, plans to play club volleyball in college.

Coach of the Year

Ian Blanchard, Dulaney: Since Blanchard took over three years ago, the Lions have gone from being Baltimore County's top team to being one of the state's top teams. They have swept three straight county titles and been to the state Class 4A tournament twice. Last Saturday, the No. 3 Lions (20-0) won their first state title, gutting out a 15-11, 12-15, 13-15, 15-11, 15-12 victory over Montgomery Blair. "I'm really trying to enjoy this," said Blanchard, whose record at Dulaney is 55-3. "How many times are you going to go 20-0 and win the state championship? Maybe once in a career." The Lions so overwhelmed opponents this fall that they lost only three games -- one to No. 4 Severna Park and the other two to Blair. They haven't lost to a Baltimore County team in two years. Blanchard built his program on a solid foundation of club players, most of whom he coaches at the Time Out For Sports club. Blanchard made a few key improvements this fall, beefing up the schedule, changing the defensive strategy and using one setter instead of two. But mostly he urged the players to focus more on their game and less on the opposition's. "Every time," he said, "we told them the same thing -- `We are the better team, and we need to play like that and not concern ourselves with how the other team's playing.' " Blanchard, who teaches history and government at Dulaney, credits assistant coach Phyllis May and JV coach Leslie Ruyle with playing huge roles in the Lions' success.

The first team

Natalie Brooks, McDonogh, senior, hitter: The 6-1 middle hitter emerged as a force at the net and led the rebuilding No. 12 Eagles (14-2) to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Division final. Brooks, who had 20 kills in the title-match loss to Friends, totaled 213 kills, averaging 3.4 a game. She made 107 blocks -- 83 solo. Also an exceptional back-row player, she had 121 digs and made only 23 passing errors on 248 attempts.

Ericka Butler, Western, junior, hitter: The top player in Baltimore, Butler led the Doves (12-3) to their third straight city championship. The athletic outside hitter finished with 135 kills, 2.2 a game, and had some of her top performances against the Doves' best competition, including 16 kills vs. No. 11 C. Milton Wright. She had eight kills and 16 digs to lead the Doves in the city title match. She also finished with 44 aces.

Tara Clarke, Hereford, senior, hitter: A 5-8 middle hitter, Clarke led the No. 8 Bulls (18-2) to the state final four for a second straight year. She finished with 110 kills, averaging 1.7 a game. She also had 56 blocks and served at 93 percent. Quick at the net and in the back row, Clarke dug up 96 percent of her attempts. In the Class 2A North region final, she had 11 kills as the Bulls upset Towson in five games.

Leanne Costa, Dulaney, senior, hitter: Half of Dulaney's dynamite hitting tandem, Costa finished the season with 177 kills, none more dramatic than the one that capped off the state Class 4A championship victory. The 5-9 outside hitter averaged 3.6 kills a game. Some of her best performances came during the playoffs, including 18 kills in the state final. A solid back-row performer too, Costa averaged 2.3 digs a game.

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