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Rishell has historic season

December 11, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Smithsburg junior middle hitter Sara Rishell was expected to be one of Washington County's top volleyball players when the 2009 season began. She was coming off a sophomore season in which she averaged 3.50 kills and 1.25 blocks per game to made The Herald-Mail's All-County First Team.

Rishell not only lived up to expectations, she obliterated them with a season that has to be considered among the best by an individual in Washington County's long and storied prep volleyball history.

Rishell averaged a stunning 6.10 kills per game -- the highest average in the county since rally scoring began in 2003 -- and added 1.46 blocks and 2.79 digs per game to lead the Leopards to a 19-0 record and their first Maryland Class 1A state championship since 2001 and sixth overall.

Rishell is The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-County Volleyball Player of the Year.

"This year was a breakout season for her, and last season was, too," Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear said. "She was up in kills and blocks and a leader as a sophomore, and coming into this season I thought she's be strong. But when she started hitting in summer league, she came into her own.

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"Her game, it was hard for me to believe she could improve that much when she was already that good, but she's such a hard worker, and I'm sure next year she'll surprise me again."

Without fail during the season, Rishell put her teammates first during interviews. She didn't hesitate to do the same again when discussing her latest honor.

"It's definitely a team thing. I wouldn't be anything without a passer in the back row or a set from the setter," Rishell said. "Volleyball is definitely a team sport. As a team you have to work hard, and as a team we really came together. We were friends on and off the court and we played for each other and that was the key."

"She's a coach's dream," Brashear said. "She's not a kid who's going to complain if someone else gets a chance. She has a positive attitude, cheers for everybody, and when our back's against the wall, she's being the leader we need her to be."

Rishell is joined on The Herald-Mail's 2009 All-County Volleyball First Team by:

Taylor Belella, Smithsburg: Junior setter orchestrated the Leopards' offense beautifully, averaging 10.06 assists per game, and added 2.03 digs and 0.87 aces.

Danielle DuBois, Broadfording: Senior defensive specialist averaged a county-best 5.26 digs and added 1.05 aces for the Lions, runners-up in the National Association of Christian Athletes Division II tournament.

Alison Griffith, Boonsboro: Senior outside hitter got it done offensively (2.63 kills) and defensively (2.98 digs) for the Warriors.

Lindsay Lacy, Clear Spring: Senior outside hitter was among the county leaders in both kills (3.00) and digs (3.00) and added 0.57 aces per game for the Blazers.

Akilah McCall, North Hagerstown: Junior outside hitter harnessed her abundant athletic ability to rip 2.88 kills per game for the Hubs.

Rebecca Pearl, South Hagerstown: Senior middle hitter was the Rebels' top front-row threat (3.49 kills, 0.81 blocks) and also one of their best defenders (1.87 digs).

Lily Pinkham, Clear Spring: Junior middle hitter finished second in the county in kills (3.95) and added 0.72 blocks per game for the Blazers.

Katie Sprecher, Smithsburg: Junior outside hitter developed into one of the Leopards' best attackers (2.16 kills) and defenders (2.95 digs) during the season.

Hannah Young, Broadfording: Senior middle hitter did a little bit of everything for the Lions, averaging 3.86 kills, 0.63 blocks, 3.48 digs and 0.61 aces.

Second Team
Colleen Black, MH, Smithsburg, Senior; Hannah House, MH, Clear Spring, Senior; Samantha Kelly, OH, Williamsport, Sophomore; Trisha Leigh, OH, Williamsport, Junior; Morgan McCoy, MH, South Hagerstown, Senior; Megan Micco, S, Clear Spring, Junior; Megan Plume, S, North Hagerstown, Senior; Breanne Purdham, DS, Clear Spring, Senior; Callan Spicher, OH Saint James, Senior; Anna Wade, OH; North Hagerstown, Senior

Honorable Mention
Boonsboro -- Rebecca Demers, Megan Long, Macy Fuscsick, Tiffany Rohrer; Broadfording -- Rebecca Adams, Charlotte Worsfold, Abigail Worsfold; Clear Spring -- Sarah Elwood, Damara McDonough; Grace Academy -- Jamie Shurnitski, Erica Null, Lauren Serafini, Amanda Hall; Hancock -- Maureen Leavy, Briana Swisher; Heritage Academy -- Bri Dorsey, Rebekah Clarke, Callie Butts, Kara Stamper, Rachel Clarke, Kathleen Kidd; North Hagerstown -- Autumn Fisher, Mollie Johnson; Smithsburg -- Danielle Beaver, Paige Decker, Mallory Petty; South Hagerstown -- Emma Stahl, Megan Vance, Kara Henson; Saint James -- Lindsey Gish, Regena Reyes, Jordan Wills, Sunny Bae; St. Maria Goretti -- Courtney Thompson, Sarah Swope, Jean Hogan; Williamsport -- Ariah Giles, Paige Kitchen, Allison Gulnac, Summer Neff.

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