ALL-AREA VOLLEYBALL: Big Schools Player of the Year: Elise Walch, Martin County
Thursday, January 07, 2010
by Cristina Ledra
Photo by Ray Graham / The Palm Beach Post
Long before any teams played Martin County, they knew about Elise Walch. Word spreads quickly when you are 6-foot-5 and have the skills and power to match the height.
Walch frustrated and overwhelmed opponents during a dream senior season that included winning a state title with the Tigers, being named Florida's Miss Volleyball and a First Team All-America, and signing with the University of Wisconsin.
Walch was motivated to win a state title after missing the majority of her junior season with multiple stress fractures in her foot. She recovered from the injuries in time to play in the Tigers' loss to St. Thomas Aquinas in the regional final.
"That made me really want to come back hard and take the team to state (as a senior)," Walch said. "I hated being out."
On a team of elite players, Walch stood out as a force, and it was the one game the Tigers lost all season — to Class 6A state champion Tampa-Plant — that made them all realize how special this year's Martin County team was.
"After we played Plant, we knew we were going to be one of the top teams because we beat them one game and we were so close in all the other games.
"That really put us on the map because they're such a good team," Walch said.
Walch's season numbers were impressive — 539 kills, 63 digs, 151 blocks, 31 aces and five assists — but it was her performance in this year's state title match that exemplified her season.
She finished the match with 32 kills, 12 of which were in the fourth and final game. She blasted the final four kills, halting Tallahassee-Leon's rally.
"The last point and everyone rushing the court and all of us getting our medals ... It was all just an awesome feeling," Walch said. "I still can't believe we did it."
BIG SCHOOLS COACH OF THE YEAR
Amanda Angermeier, Boca Raton
Took a team of mostly underclassmen to the Class 4A state semifinals. The Bobcats had previously never been further than the region quarterfinals.
BIG SCHOOLS FIRST TEAM
Sarah Wickstrom, Jensen Beach, Jr. S
Had 744 assists, 257 service points. Committed to Florida State.
Shaina Abdell, Royal Palm Beach
Senior, outside hitter/setter
Valuable at every position had strong senior season despite team's rebuilding year.
Brittany Lear, Jupiter
Consistently had outstanding number of assists, averaging 24.1 per game.
Nicole Walch, Martin County
Sophomore, middle hitter/outside hitter
Powerful high-scoring middle hitter for state champion Tigers.
Jessica Santaniello, West Boca Raton
Senior, outside hitter/middle blocker
All-around player and leader, led the county in kills with 288.
Olivia Mesner, Spanish River
Senior, middle blocker
Made impact in first year with Sharks. Was among area leaders in aces, blocks.
Molly Alexander, Jensen Beach
Senior, middle hitter
Led state champions in kills (254), blocks (67) and digs (86).
BIG SCHOOLS SECOND TEAM
Lindsey Knapp, Boca Raton, So., outside hitter: Led a young team in kills.
Julia Schade, Boca Raton, Sr. setter: Was the leader of surprise Bobcats.
Kristina Wilson, Spanish River, Sr., setter: Tallied most aces in area.
Brittany Tiegs, Jensen Beach, Sr., middle hitter: Key part of state champion team.
Lexis Lloyd, Martin County, Sr. libero: Racked up digs all season.
Latoya Harvin, Royal Palm Beach, Sr., middle blocker: Area leader in blocks.
Caroline Flinchum, Palm Beach Central, Sr., mid. blocker: Four-year starter at middle blocker.
Melissa Green (Boca Raton), Lauren Gainer (Boca Raton), Caroline Uhl (Dwyer), Megan Higgins (Jupiter), Morgan Lear (Jupiter), Jordan Fiser (Jupiter), Lauren Brinskelle (Martin County), Mallori Moffatt (Martin County), Monica Koger (Okeechobee), Victoria Basso (Olympic Heights), Pam Quieroga (Park Vista), Taylor Tendrich (Park Vista), Gabrielle Roulette (Park Vista), Kristin Haggerty (South Fork), Katelyn Rawls (Wellington), Emily Viskovich (West Boca Raton).