2001 All-Baltimore City/Co. volleyball

November 27, 2001|By Katherine Dunn

Player of the Year

Michelle Clarke, Towson: With so much talent and so much power, it's hard to believe No. 2 Towson relied so heavily on one player, but as the Generals' only setter, Clarke was the key to all of their success. "We could not have done this without her," said Generals coach Jayne Lacy. "Michelle is the catalyst of this team. She runs the offense." A second-team All-City/County selection last season, Clarke was the glue that held the Generals (19-1) together as they won their first Baltimore County championship since 1966 and their first state championship. Clarke contributed 31 assists in the 15-8, 15-8, 17-15 Class 2A state final victory over No. 5 Glenelg. The 5-foot-7 senior finished the season with 496 assists and averaged 8.0 a game. Her ability to establish a strong middle and then mix up the offense proved critical to Towson's title run. "Michelle never gets rattled, and she is very, very smart," Lacy said. "She's constantly transitioning, moving on the court and, at the same time, having to think all the time about where she's supposed to be, where she's going to put the ball and what's happening on the other side of the net. It's amazing to me how well she put that all together." A four-year starter for the Generals, Clarke also played for the Time Out for Sports 17-and-under Orange Crush club team that finished 17th at the USA Volleyball Junior National Championships in July.

Coach of the Year

Cary Lyon, CHEN: When Lyon took over the Christian Home Educators Network volleyball program five years ago, he began building one of the area's best programs practically from scratch. Lyon had coached Joppatowne's boys team to the Harford County title in 1982, but the game had changed since then. Through coaching clinics and camps, Lyon immersed himself in the sport and got his potential players, including daughters Chelsea and Grace, involved in club ball. The hard work paid off. This season, the No. 9 Bravehearts went 25-0 in best-three-out-of-five matches, won the Maryland Christian Athletic League title, finished second in the Maryland Private Schools Championships and won the 16-team National Christian Home Athletic Association Tournament at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., three weeks ago. "It's the top of the world," Lyon said. "I couldn't be more proud of my girls. You could be a great coach and have all the knowledge in the world, but you still have to have girls who buy into it, and they did. They really worked hard." Lyon also overcame challenges that other coaches never have to face -- bringing players spread from Ellicott City to Havre de Grace together for practice, finding gym space without breaking the budget and finding enough CHEN girls willing to put in the time to make the program such a success.

First team

Emily Berman, Towson: A pure power hitter, Berman crushed the ball several times at the 10-foot line during the Generals' state championship match. With her powerful approach and a ripping wrist snap, the 6-1 junior emerged as an imposing middle presence. Her development, in only her second season of volleyball, proved critical to Towson's county and state title runs. In Berman and Stephanie Kines, the Generals had the most dominant middle-hitting duo in the metro area. A club veteran, Berman averaged 2.3 kills a game and had 11 in the state final.

Veronica Briggs, Dulaney: The 5-6 outside hitter carried the No. 4 Lions (15-3) as far as she could -- to the Class 3A state semifinals. The senior averaged 2.7 kills a game despite being pegged by the opposition as the Lions' only consistent offensive weapon. Against top-5 opponents, Briggs averaged 13 kills a match. She nailed 18 in a September victory over then-No. 1 Centennial. She also had another offensive weapon -- her jump serve. She averaged 2.8 aces a match. Briggs, who has a 25-inch vertical leap, played for the Orange Crush club team.

Bruna Fonseca, Dulaney: A second-team All-City/County pick last season, Fonseca made a huge sacrifice for the team this season, moving from hitter to setter. The 5-7 junior averaged 26 assists a match as the Lions' only setter. Quick with exceptional dexterity, Fonseca converted a lot of tough passes into hitable balls. Perhaps her best asset was her powerful jump serve. She averaged 3.1 aces a match and often set the tone as the Lions' first server. Against Centennial, she served the first eight points of the match, six on aces. Fonseca also played for the Orange Crush.

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