Hitters making impact

Finishers: The area has a number of powerful hitters, and college coaches have taken notice.


September 02, 2004|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

The reflexes required for the digs are impressive.

The skills needed by the setters can be underrated.

But those making the biggest impression in high school volleyball are the hitters.

And among those who have noticed are college coaches, who are doing some hitting of their own in this area in pursuit of prospects.

"I think the hitting and players in general have gotten better because the number of club teams has grown," said Dave Trumbo, who coached Liberty to its first state title last year and was named The Sun's Coach of the Year.

Trumbo knows a little about the value of those who record kills, which is compared to the slam-dunk in basketball.

It was the hitting of All-Metro juniors Stacey Krebs, 6 feet, and Meghan McConville, 5-11, that played a major role in Liberty capping an unbeaten season with a state title. What's more, the Lions won the crown by defeating defending 2A state champion Glenelg in a five-game match that ended the Gladiators' two-year, 38-game winning streak.

Krebs and McConville are among four first-team All-Metro hitters back from last year. The other two are Towson's Kellie Krouse and CHEN's Roberta Holehouse, both of whom are 5-7.

Holehouse has a 25-inch vertical jump and generates the kind of power taller girls do, as her six kills a game attest.

"I've always had a fluid, arm swing, which is where I get my power," said Holehouse, who has scholarship offers from Penn State and Towson.

"You have to hit and score points to win, no matter how good your defense is. You have to learn to hit a variety of shots, down the line, opposite side and over the blocks."

There are also a couple of impressive hitters returning who made the All-Metro second team - Rebecca Tursell of Glenelg and Tiffany Johnson of Arundel, both of whom are 5-10. Johnson, who has established a reputation for crushing the ball and altering a match, has been offered a scholarship to Kansas State, the Big 12 defending champion.

The attack in volleyball is basically pass, set and hit. To be a good finisher takes upper body strength, timing and communication with your setter, not to mention the courage to take the big shot and not play it safe, said Trumbo.

"Mental toughness is one of the biggest things to being a good hitter," said Trumbo.

"Stacey Krebs in last year's state final had the mental toughness to hit two crucial balls in a row. You have to have the confidence you can do it. I coach our girls to go for the hit, hit to win."

Krebs said she "used to be scared, but not anymore" to go for the kill or seam shot, which is between two blockers.

"My court vision has gotten better with experience, and I can look and see the defense and find the holes," Krebs said.

She also has gotten stronger - through push-ups, abdominal work and other exercises - which is another area that has improved among the sport's hitters.

Severna Park's Julie Allen, who is coaching her alma mater after being a record-setting hitter at UNC-Wilmington, says more girls are getting into weightlifting and other related workouts for upper-body strength.

"They're increasing power and endurance," said Allen. "You're seeing stronger players."

But it's not all about power.

"You've got to communicate with your setter and can't be afraid to tell her where you want the ball," said Glenelg's Tursell. "Sometimes after you hit, you may see an open spot that will be there again. You have to go for it.

"I tell my setters to keep feeding me and I'll keep hitting."

Putting it all together comes down to the fundamental of all sports - practice.

"The more reps, constant hitting, the better you will be," said Towson's Krouse.

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