MORE from our HomeTeam writers.
Player of the year: OH Sidney Brown, Jr., Berkeley Prep
It was Berkeley Prep’s third match of the 2010 season and Academy of the Holy Names wasn’t supposed to put up much resistance.
So then-Bucs head coach Randy Dagostino left assistant John Coup in charge and spent the night celebrating his anniversary with his wife.
Coup nearly fouled up his first chance to lead the team, in part because of a powerful freshman on the other side of the net. After the Bucs pulled out a closer-than-expected win, Coup and his two stars made their way over to the unknown ninth-grader.
They wanted to offer some words of encouragement. They also wanted to find out who she was.
“This girl on the other side of the night was going off on us,” Coup said. “We weren’t expecting that good of a player.”
Her name was Sidney Brown.
Brown, who finished her varsity debut with 16 kills, left Berkeley Prep’s gym that night inspired and determined to return - as a member of the school.
She transferred the next summer and joined a team that won its third straight Class 4A title, playing alongside 2011 Times co-Volleyball Players of the Year Jordan Burgess and Mackenzie Dagostino.
This fall, Brown filled their shoes and established herself as the latest in a line of dominant Bucs stars. Her all-around excellence has made her our Suncoast Player of the Year for 2012.
“I told my parents that I had to go back,” Brown said of that Sept. 3, 2010, match. “I got into the car and started crying because I was so overwhelmed that they had noticed me. I wanted to be surrounded by the best.”
After the graduation of Burgess and Dagostino, Brown left little doubt she is the best in the bay area.
She increased her kills average from 3.7 per game to 5.2, and ranked second on the team in digs (301) and blocks (27). Her efforts led the Bucs to their fourth straight title-game appearance.
But the 5-foot-11 junior is convinced there’s room for more growth in her game.
She’s grateful she’ll get to do it at Berkeley Prep, in the program Dagostino built and Coup is charged with maintaining.
“It’s so odd to be in this position,” she said. “But it’s the best decision I ever made.”
Said Coup: “I’m just glad I don’t have to play against her anymore.”
Coach of the year: Stephen Shepherd, Clearwater Central Catholic
In his third season as Marauders head coach, Shepherd led them to a 23-8 record and their first state tournament appearance since 1989. In the state semifinal against Gainesville St. Francis Catholic, CCC came back from a 2-0 deficit to force a fifth game. CCC had a mix of seniors and sophomores, and Shepherd was able meld the two classes and have them playing best by the end of the season.
OH Ashlyn MacGregor, Sr., Tarpon Springs: Pinellas County player of the year had 466 kills in 89 games, an average of 5.2 per game. Also had 100 blocks and 42 aces.
OH Caci Andreychuk, Sr., Wharton: Powerful hitter was the top scoring option for team that won 25 of its first 26 games, averaging 5.3 kills per game.
OH Lee Nielsen, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Despite missing some games due to injury, had 246 kills.
OH Lexi Thompson, Jr., Durant: Hillsborough’s leader with 5.9 kills per game, Thompson nearly engineered late-season upsets of Wharton and Steinbrenner.
OH Katie Krueger, Sr., Tampa Prep: The Virginia Tech commit did it all for the Terps, leading her team in kills (427) and blocks (48) and finishing second in digs (181).
MH Rachel Mostert, Sr., Calvary Christian: At 6-foot-2, Mostert was tough to deal with, compiling 367 kills and 113 blocks, both team highs.
LIB Rachel Miller, Sr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Uncanny ability to keep points alive, Miller had 684 digs to lead the Marauders to the Class 3A state semifinal.
LIB Toni Imbimbo, Sr., Fivay: North Suncoast player of the year ranked among Pasco County’s leaders with 472 digs and 229 kills for Class 5A region finalists.
OH Karissa Rhoades, So., Bloomingdale
OH Mary Gillis, Sr., East Lake
OH Jasmyn Perry, Sr., Freedom
OH Brooke Burkett, Sr., East Lake
MH Mary Kujak, Sr., Ridgewood
MH Jessika Hester, Sr., Mitchell
MH Alyssa Mathis, So., Bishop McLaughlin
S Maddie Alberdi, Jr., Berkeley Prep
Academy of the Holy Names: Jennifer Aprile
Anclote: Mia Lockhart
Berkeley Prep: Corey Salzer, Addison Harden, Jessica Silva
Central: Samantha Bishop
Clearwater: Haley Barrett
Clearwater Central Catholic: Casey Moore, Shea Hamilton, Katie Moore
Countryside: Jess McKelvey
East Lake: Jessica Steidl
Fivay: Briannah Nemetz
Mitchell: Lyndsey Lane
Nature Coast: Courtney Skinner
Palm Harbor University: Logan Miller, Naomi Mack
Plant: Ashley Cozart
Ridgewood: Lauren Gonzalez
Riverview: Kiahna Wicks
Robinson: Lauren Peterson
Steinbrenner: Madison Seuzeneau
Wharton: Ashton Stocker
Wiregrass Ranch: Grace Olsen, Teddi Wright