Player of the Year
Laura Shand, Liberty: This multidimensional junior was a huge cog in the Liberty machine that devoured county competition this season and advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals. The setter consistently set the table for Liberty's big hitters, averaging 7.6 assists a game, good for second in the county. What made her so special, however, was that she also led the county in blocks, averaging more than 1.1 a game despite standing just 5 feet 9. Her dual functionality kept her constantly on the move, often getting into position for a set, then spinning around in an instant to defend the net. What's more, Shand was one of the area's top servers, putting 94 percent of her balls in play.
Coach of the Year
Dave Trumbo, Liberty: Trumbo was the driving force behind a team that won its first 17 matches of the season, and claimed county, Central Maryland Conference, county tournament, and Class 3A West Regional championships. Perhaps even more impressively, the Lions did it without the benefit of a dominant hitter. Instead, five players -- each 5-9 or under -- shared the role of finisher, all averaging between 1.5 and 2.6 kills a game. Together, they consistently dominated taller teams, winning 60 of 70 games throughout the season. The Lions also rarely beat themselves, keeping errors to a minimum and posting a lofty 91 percent serving average. In the state semifinals against top-ranked Severna Park, Trumbo's squad used its athleticism and chemistry to throw a scare into the much taller Falcons. Liberty finished the season with a No. 6 area ranking.
Joanne Brophy, Liberty: Brophy may well have been the county's top passer this season. The senior always seemed to be at the right place at the right time, leading Liberty in assists (4.7 a game). The 5-5 hitter made numerous other contributions as well, leading the team in defensive digs, finishing second in kills (2.0 a game) and serving to a 91 percent average with a team-high 33 aces.
Amy Conner, South Carroll: A second-team selection a year ago, Conner made marked improvement to become one of the area's premier middle hitters. The 5-8 senior averaged 2.3 kills a game, using her nose for the ball to almost always get into proper position, then consistently scoring points by hitting with sharp angles. Conner also had 34 blocks for the Cavaliers, who finished 11-4 and took third in their conference.
Amber Luhn, Francis Scott Key: To put it simply, Luhn was the county's pre-eminent hitter. The 5-9 senior averaged a county-best 2.9 kills a game, scoring a kill two out of every five times she touched the ball. But this was no one-dimensional player, also putting 91 percent of her serves in play and scoring a team-high 44 aces, helping the Eagles to a 14-3 record and third place in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.
Becky Neubauer, Liberty: The 5-4 senior never let her size become an obstacle, finding numerous ways to contribute at and around the net. She averaged 1.5 kills a game as a hitter for the Lions, and committed a mere 31 hitting errors in 69 games. She also ranked second on the team in successful passes, defensive digs and serving percentage (.940).
Stacey Stonesifer, Francis Scott Key: Mere statistics don't do this senior justice. Recovering from a painful back injury that kept her out three weeks near midseason, the 5-6 hitter was the Eagles' most consistent player, almost single-handedly leading them to a win over Middletown. Stonesifer led Key in serve percentage (.950), serve receiving and passing, and was the team's top defensive player. She also averaged 1.2 kills a game, helping her team to a 14-3 record.
Becky Trumbo, Liberty: Despite standing just 5-7, Trumbo was the top hitter on a team that won county, conference and regional titles, averaging 2.6 kills a game. The senior normally was at her best in big games, including a 14-kill performance in the county-clinching win vs. South Carroll. Her best sport, however, may be lacrosse, for which she recently accepted a scholarship to play for Towson.
Gail Baumgardner, Francis Scott Key: The senior had big shoes to fill with the graduation of county Player of the Year Carrie Ness, but didn't miss a beat, leading the county in assists with 8.5 a game and directing the Eagles to a 14-3 record. The setter also did her part serving, putting the ball in play 91 percent of the time and compiling 41 aces in 68 games.