Volleyball may not have been Christine Gladysz's first love, but the Palm Harbor resident has found happiness and success at Washington and Lee University.
In her first two years with the Division III program, the Generals setter established school records for career assists and received first-team all-region, all-state and all-conference honors, as well as third-team All-American recognition.
"Basketball was my first love, and I played all sports through middle school at St. Paul's," Gladysz said. "When I went to Berkeley Prep for high school, I still played all the sports and started playing volleyball year-round, with basketball in between.
"I always liked volleyball, especially the team aspect and how everyone supports everyone else," she said.
Gladysz credits prep coach Randy Dagostino for teaching her the skills.
"Christine is one of the hardest workers I've ever known and has such good knowledge of volleyball," Dagostino said. "She outworks everyone around her, and that inspires others to work even harder.
"I'm not at all surprised by her success in college. She needs those around her to be successful, of course, like getting her the ball and then those that can terminate the play after she sets the ball."
When Gladysz first began, she played everywhere from the middle position to the left side, then the right. Not until her junior year in high school did she settle in to the setter position.
"A setter runs the offense and is like a quarterback on the football team," Gladysz said. "A setter needs to call the plays and see the court. The real key is communication."
When Washington and Lee coach Bryan Snyder learned Gladysz was interested in attending the university, he was thrilled. Gladysz had visited often while her older brother, Brian, played on the baseball team until his graduation in 2003.
"I had watched Christine play and could see that she could play pretty much anywhere," Snyder said. "She has the energy and the knowledge of the game and understands how her role interacts with others on the team.
"Christine's job includes calling the plays, mixing things up and seeing how to get hitters to attack opponents' weaknesses," he said. "Volleyball is a fast-paced game, and she and I have to be on the same page before the game starts because you can't call a timeout during play."
Through her sophomore season, Gladysz played in 255 games and posted 2,483 assists. Her 13.24 assists per game last year ranked third nationally.
"I knew Christine had the skills and yet she's performed beyond what I expected," Snyder said. "She's even better than I thought, and she has the ability to make everyone around her better.
"The team's accomplishments have somewhat led to her success, though. She sets great balls, and she has the teammates that put them away. I'm happy to say that our volleyball program has risen to such a level that the girls are highly thought of."
Washington and Lee has won three consecutive Old Dominion Athletic Conference championships, made three trips to the NCAA South Region Tournament and is predicted to repeat. Still, Gladysz strives to be even better.
"I want to keep improving and become even more consistent," Gladysz said. "If I do that, whatever comes will come.
"I want us to win the conference again, and if we do, we get an automatic bid to the NCAA," she said. "Then, I want us to go further than before. We've been knocked out in the second round the last three years. This year, we want to go farther."
VOLLEYBALL: Florida Southern outside hitter Beverly Stasis (Countryside) received her second straight Sunshine State Conference Player of the Week honor.
In five maches, the freshman averaged 5.26 kills and 4.21 digs.
Daryl Baby (Clearwater) is a freshman libero for Florida Southern, and Rachelle Konczal (Northeast) is a junior outside hitter.
Melanie Custer (Clearwater) is the lone senior setter on the Gardner-Webb Bulldogs.
In a loss to Charlotte, the third-year captain's four digs were enough to make Custer the school's all-time leader (609). She is first in service aces (81) and assists (1,470) and second in games played (1,317).
Laura Manovill (Dunedin) is a setter on Florida Gulf Coast's first competitive squad. The sophomore had 23 assists against Florida Tech.
SOCCER: Senior midfielder Stephanie Freeman (Countryside) was selected the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week after scoring two goals for No. 11 Florida in a 2-1 upset of No. 6 Florida State. Freeman produced the winning shot against Rutgers. The senior leads the Gators in goals (7).
Senior defender and captain Jennifer Walters (Palm Harbor University) was chosen SEC Defensive Player of the Week after contributing to Auburn wins over Samford and William and Mary.
Keri Gordon (Clearwater Central Catholic) is a senior captain and defender for William and Mary.
Sophomore forward Samantha Robinson (CCC) tied the game for No. 18 Tampa against No. 5 Barry on a ball from Sara Stack (Palm Harbor University). Barry won in overtime 2-1. Also on the Tampa team are Katie Calvin (CCC), who is a captain and senior midfielder; and Palm Harbor University graduates Colleen Sweeney and Stephanie Huertas, freshman defenders.
Melissa Behrle (Countryside) is a senior defender for Barry, and Samantha McLean (St. Petersburg) is a freshman midfielder. Against West Georgia, Behrle had an assist in a 4-0 win.
Kari Weniger (CCC) was the Patriot League Soccer Rookie of the Week after producing two goals and an assist in Navy's 3-0 victory over Wagner. Weniger shares the lead for points and leads the Mids in assists.
Midfielder Buster Wiand (Clearwater) scored his first collegiate goal and forced the Lafayette-Jacksonville game into overtime in the Lehigh Soccer Classic. Lafayette's five-game winning streak ended in a 3-2 loss. Wiand was selected for the all-tournament team.
FOOTBALL: D'Qwell Jackson (Seminole) collected 16 tackles for Maryland in a 19-16 overtime loss to West Virginia. The junior middle linebacker leads the Terps in tackles (29).
Tulane junior running back Jovon Jackson (Gibbs) rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns in a 39-19 victory over Florida A&M.
Redshirt freshman Marcus Paschal (Largo) recorded five solo tackles for Iowa in a 17-10 win over Iowa State.
Jay Davis' first outing as starting quarterback for North Carolina State resulted in two touchdowns and 168 yards passing in a win over Richmond. In a 22-14 loss to No. 9 Ohio State, Davis threw for a 26-yard TD.
Sophomore Gary Fiegel (St. Petersburg Catholic) is a backup quarterback at Benedictine College (Kan.)
D'Angelo Hannah (St. Petersburg Catholic) is a receiver for Concord University's Mountain Lions. Against Western Kentucky, the junior had two receptions for 54 yards.
_ News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 796-5559; e-mailed to namorgan46msn.com, or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.