MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Co-players of the year
S Rachel Reed and OH Brittnay Estes, Srs., East Lake
Why we picked them: Asked to make a choice, it was an impossible task. Even the coaches we asked in the county were split between fire and ice. On one hand, there is Estes, the fiery hitter who always seemed to come up with big, crowd-thrilling kills to thwart an opponent’s rally or start one for the Eagles. On the other, Reed: a calm, cool, silky smooth setter who at 5-foot-7 was able to incorporate hitting and blocking into her already impressive repertoire. It’s like this: Reed made the Eagles go. Estes made the Eagles GO! GO! GO!
Most impressive accomplishments: Reed (758 assists, 72 kills) and Estes (394 kills, 257 digs) led East Lake to a second straight state championship in Class 8A. No team from Pinellas County had ever won consecutive titles. The Eagles did it in dominant fashion, losing only to nationally ranked Berkeley Prep. And, quite honestly, had you actually seen Estes play through an allergic reaction — trust us, you wouldn’t have left home looking or feeling like that — you’d be pretty impressed, too.
Did you know? Estes and Reed are beach volleyball partners, but met on a softball field. Estes was part of a girls fast-pitch world series championship team when she was 12 (and the team was coached by her dad, Mike, also the East Lake softball and volleyball coach).
What’s next: Estes has signed with Lipscomb University in Nashville, a Division I-A school that has made the NCAA Tournament three of the past four seasons. Reed is contemplating playing volleyball at a smaller school or just attending a bigger college as a regular ol’ student.
OH Berkley Whaley, Sr., Lakewood: Florida signee had one of the most dominant careers in county history.
OH Nikki O’Rourke, Sr., Clearwater: Natural libero played much bigger, leading Tornadoes to region final.
OH Jackie Wegner, Sr., East Lake: Great down stretch; 251 kills, 175 digs, may have been MVP of state final.
OH Ashlyn MacGregor, Jr., Tarpon Springs: Pounded out 423 kills and carried Spongers to state semifinal.
MH Madi Loebel, Sr., Indian Rocks Christian: Set school records with 378 kills, 112 blocks; passed 1,000 kills for career.
MH Brianna McComeskey, Sr., East Lake: Quick-set play with Reed was unstoppable; 214 kills and 74 blocks on year.
Lib Caitlyn Kovach, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Everywhere on defense, exceptional passer got the Hurricanes offense going.
S Ashley Llerena, Jr., Indian Rocks Christian: Set a school record with 894 assists; added 227 digs.
OH Leigh Buttner, Jr., Lakewood
OH Sammy Eichelberger, Sr., Palm Harbor University
OH Mansie Hough, Sr., Canterbury
OH Kalyn Baird, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic
MH Marissa Lisenbee, Sr., Seminole
MH Kelsi Collins, So., Tarpon Springs
Lib Brooke Burkett, Jr., East Lake
S Megan Miller, Sr. Clearwater Central Catholic
Coach of the year
Patrick Sneed, Tarpon Springs
Sneed guided Tarpon to the state final for the first time in almost two decades, as the Spongers won district and region titles before falling in the Class 6A semifinals to Fort Myers to finish 24-4.
Calvary Christian: Rachel Mostert; Canterbury: Megan Burgess, Samantha Burgess; Clearwater: Haley Barrett, Allie Russell, Sara Myslicki, Caitlin Stoner, Sarah Case; Clearwater Central Catholic: Rachel Miller, Morgan O’Brien; Countryside: Jenna Dykstra, Hannah Glover; Dixie Hollins: Lauren Burkett; Dunedin: Hannah Welsh; East Lake: Jessica Steidl, Julia Brunner, Mary Gillis; Indian Rocks Christian: Marissa Brown, Emiline Lazzeri, Michelle Brown, Kindall Edwards; Lakeside Christian: Brittany Behensky, Brianna Smyth; Lakewood: Sarah Donnelly; Northeast: Brittany Taksas; Osceola: Morgan O’Malia, Hayley Misewich; Palm Harbor University: Abbey Bouchard, Logan Miller, Lee Nielsen, Kristine Fuller; Pinellas Park: Mallory Leary; St. Petersburg: Natalie Meyer, Casey Houlton; Seminole: Amber Peone; Shorecrest: Sidney Wall; Tarpon Springs: Kaci Zambelli, Jenn Smith