Around The Area

September 03, 2002

Anne Arundel County

Arundel is perched to challenge perennial contenders Severna Park and Broadneck. The Wildcats return a wealth of talent while the other two schools suffered graduation losses.

Defending champion Severna Park, a Class 3A state finalist, lost Anne Arundel Player of the Year Lauren Klau. But the Falcons are reloading as are their Broadneck counterparts.

The defending 4A state champion Bruins lost four senior starters and will rely on a handful of returning seniors and juniors.

Glen Burnie, with new coach Betty Golibart, South River, which had a host of juniors last year, and Chesapeake, led by Rachel Hutchinson, should all be improved.

Baltimore City

The road to the championship should again go through Western. The Doves have won five straight titles and nine of the past 10.

Western, which advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals last season, will have four starters among seven returnees for second-year coach Cassandra Melton.

Poly will again pose the biggest threat to Western. The Engineers, who were swept by the Doves in last year's city-title match, will have Josh Headley as interim coach. Juniors will dominate the roster, which includes three starters.

City should be a factor with coach Linda Holmes. City, Poly and Western have been the only teams to claim the city championship since 1988.

Baltimore County

The county title race likely will spin on one position this season -- the setter.

Defending champ Towson and runner-up Dulaney each return a pair of powerhouse hitters, but neither has a true veteran setter. Towson graduated All-Metro Player of the Year Michelle Clarke. Dulaney might have to turn to one of their best hitters, Bruna Fonseca, to set again this season.

That might leave the door ajar in Division I for Owings Mills, which has the top returning setter in Stacey Wasserman.

Each perennial contender in Division II has a new coach. Joanne Marshall's Dulaney team still appears ahead of Fadime Verhoeven's Catonsville and Cary Lyon's Loch Raven.

Carroll County

Liberty, which started 17-0 last season before falling to Severna Park in the Class 3A state semifinals, should again be the class of the county, despite losing nearly all of its starters.

All-County Player of the Year Laura Shand, a 5-foot-9 senior setter, will be counted on to provide more of punch around the net in the Lions' nine-player rotation.

Struggling last season, North Carroll should be improved with the addition of Maria Covell, an All-County tennis player who missed last season with an injury.

South Carroll will be retooling after losing 10 seniors. Westminster, a .500 team in the regular season that advanced to the regional semifinals, features four seniors.

Harford County

Defending champion C. Milton Wright, which lost only one starter from an 11-3 team last year, appears to be the team to beat.

The Mustangs are so deep that coach Kim Mayforth is having trouble picking her starting six. Senior hitter Kristin McArthur is being recruited by several colleges.

The Mustangs will be pushed again by rival Fallston. New coach Nicole Hoover says the Cougars have more height than they've had in some time.

Bel Air's new coach, Kathy Thornton, has been impressed with the passing and communication skills she's seen so far.

In the boys league, Wright should be the top contender, with Bel Air and Fallston close behind.

Howard County

Any year when state power Centennial is not considered the favorite to win the county is, indeed, a unique one.

The "team to beat" label goes to last year's Class 2A finalist, Glenelg, which returns a boatload of talent, including All-Metro middle hitter Sarah Tursell.

Graduation wasn't too kind to county champion River Hill, although the Hawks still are a major title threat behind Ali Kupec and Stephanie Jacobson.

Centennial isn't exactly a heavy underdog. The Eagles lack size, but have a lot of firepower.

With new coach Mike Moynihan and talented setter Stacey Carroll, Mount Hebron should rise out of the middle of the conference pack.

Private schools

Coming off its second straight Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference tournament title, McDonogh appears to have little competition in its quest for a third.

Everyone else lost a significant number of players, including regular-season champion Institute of Notre Dame.

John Carroll moves from the Harford County league into the B Conference. With a couple of 6-footers, the Patriots should give last season's runner-up, Mount Carmel, a fight for the title.

The home-schoolers from Christian Home Educators Network should dominate the Maryland Christian Athletic League again and make a run at the state private schools title.

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