Around The Area

High School Sports

Fall Preview

Volleyball

September 04, 2001

Anne Arundel County

What has developed into an intense rivalry between Broadneck and Severna Park will continue, but not in the region playoffs with the latter now a Class 3A team.

Broadneck, the defending county and 4A East region champion and state finalist, figures to have South River and possibly Harford's C.M. Wright as its new playoff rivals.

Under former All-Metro player (1995) Julie Allen as its new coach, Severna Park has moved into a tough 3A East. The Falcons will now battle the likes of Howard's River Hill and Mount Hebron and Prince George's Gwynn Park.

Arundel was hit hard by graduation, but Glen Burnie, Chesapeake and North County have some key players back.

Baltimore City

Not much should change in the race for the Baltimore City crown. Four-time defending champ Western appears poised to make it five in a row despite losing All-Metro power hitter Ericka Butler.

The Doves graduated three other key players and half of the their lineup, but new coach Cassandra Melton, who has worked with the Starlings Volleyball Club, likes the look of her youngsters. After centering most of their attack around Butler the past few years, the Doves will have a more balanced offense.

Poly will once again be looking to knock the Doves from their lofty perch. The Engineers shocked Western a year ago with a four-game regular-season victory, but the Doves came back to settle the matter in the city final.

Baltimore County

Dulaney has not lost to a Baltimore County team in three years, but Towson could be poised to end the Lions' four-year reign.

The Generals graduated just two players and have five starters back after pushing the Lions to four games in last season's county final.

The Lions can't be dismissed quickly, although they suffered a huge blow in losing All-Metro hitter Jen Wylie for four weeks with a broken foot. Even with Wylie, the Lions were not as deep as last season. Dulaney does return several veteran hitters, although one will likely have to fill a setting slot.

In Division II, the Lions could face their stiffest competition from Catonsville. Towson should have smooth sailing in Division I.

Carroll County

Class 2A state finalist Francis Scott Key was hit hard by graduation, losing five of six starters. The question for coach Alice Rau is how long will it take for a team dominated by younger players to develop into a cohesive unit.

In the meantime, the county's top team could turn out to be Liberty, which returns all but one starter from a 13-win regional finalist. Though not especially tall, the Lions look to dominate with chemistry and athleticism. South Carroll, a winner of 12 matches last season, should contend as well.

Westminster, a .500 team last season, features the county's most height with two 6-footers, while North Carroll, with eight returnees, looks to be better all around.

Harford County

Undefeated county champ C. Milton Wright again looks like the team to beat, followed by Fallston and Bel Air.

The Mustangs return half their team from last season, and several girls have played on club teams during the summer. Coach Kim Mayforth says the team has the potential to be the strongest in school history.

Fallston, which advanced to the state semifinals last year, has six returnees and more height than last season. At Bel Air, new coach Tanya Bernarduci takes over and will try to improve on last season's 8-8 record.

Joppatowne, with new coach Sarah Milkovich, should finish in the upper half of the league. Above-average height will help North Harford contend.

Howard County

Centennial and River Hill find themselves in similar positions heading into the season: Both teams return talented players, but will hard-pressed at the start to replace the leadership of their setters, both All-County performers last year.

Both teams should still be a cut above the rest of the league, however. Centennial's Lindsay Feller will be a force to be reckoned with, and Kelsey Tyree, a three-year starter, will also be tough. River Hill's Megan Mitchell and Krystal and Stephanie Jacobson should provide an imposing front line.

Glenelg, Mount Hebron and Atholton will have several talented returnees that could make for a tight league race. Hammond and Long Reach could surprise.

Private schools

With five starters returning, the Institute of Notre Dame should give defending champion McDonogh (13-3) a run for the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference crown. The Eagles, who defeated Mercy in last season's finale, bring back three starters. Rebuilding Mercy shouldn't fall far behind. Spalding could also contend.

In the B Conference, defending champ Mount Carmel should find itself in another battle with runner-up Chapelgate.

Another team to watch is CHEN, a team of home-schooled students that plays in the Maryland Christian Athletic League. With a host of club players and every starter back, CHEN boasts a powerful hitting contingent.

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