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Armstrong named county's volleyball player of year

Knowing 2008 would be her last season of competitive volleyball, Wesleyan's Anne Marie Armstrong wanted to leave the game on a high note.

Even tough the Wolves ended a season without a state championship for the first time since 2003, the senior middle hitter/middle blocker and her teammates went out with a bang, rather than a whimper.

Armstrong had the most dominant season of her career by breaking into the Wesleyan school record book and leaving a strong legacy to the program that will include being the Daily Post's 2008 Player of the Year.

"She's the ultimate competitor," Wesleyan coach Ted Russell said of Armstrong. "It doesn't matter what (sport) she plays, she wants to beat you.

"Statistically, her (senior) season was off the charts. But the thing that was most impressive was that she really evolved into an all-around player. She was strong with her serve and deadly with her spike and block, but one of the areas that goes unnoticed is how good a defensive player and passer she became."

Given her wide athletic talents - she already has signed a basketball scholarship with Georgia and is the two-time defending state high jump champion in track and field - the development of Armstrong's all-around game isn't surprising.

The depth of her ability in each area this season, however, was extraordinary as she not only bettered her statistical totals from last year, but in two cases, nearly doubled them.

Armstrong not only broke the Wesleyan single-season kills record of 418 this season, she obliterated it by pounding down 725 this fall.

Her total of 301 digs also fell just one short of tying Nicole Farmer's school record. In addition, she was a force in every other facet of the game, from defense (81 combined blocks) to serving (114 aces) and even contributing 28 set assists on offense.

Armstrong credited a challenge put to her by Russell before the season to take a more active leadership role this year.

"Coach Russell pretty much told me I had pick my game up," Armstrong said. "I didn't get a chance to play club ball because of basketball. So, I just tried to stay in shape (over the summer) and come in focused on volleyball."

Even though Westminster ended Wesleyan's dominance over Class AA/A by claiming a sectional finals victory over the four-time defending champions en route to the title, the Wolves remained one of the state's top programs, while Armstrong also cemented her own legacy on the volleyball court.

It was disappointing enough she would have to give up the game to concentrate on basketball once she heads off to Georgia next year, but it is a situation she's come to terms with, even though she will still miss the game.

"It kind of stinks (to give up volleyball) because I love the game so much," Armstrong said. "I'll miss the people on this team, and I just miss playing the game in general. Hopefully, I can play again some time in the future, like maybe out of college or whatever."

The loss to Westminster also provided an obstacle in Armstrong's quest for 10 career state championship rings, though that dream remains alive with the basketball season ahead, and the possible addition of shot put and discus to her track and field repertoire in the spring.

No matter how much Armstrong adds to her jewelry collection, however, Russell says will go down in Wesleyan history as one of the school's best female athletes.

"She's set a standard at Wesleyan for individual athletic achievement," Russell said. "Her legacy is how much she's given to Wesleyan with her athletic talent."

Wesleyan standout Anne Marie Armstrong was the top award winner at the All-Gwinnett County Volleyball Awards Banquet, held Monday night at Central Gwinnett.

Armstrong was named the player of the year by the county's coaches. Norcross was named team of the year and Parkview's Catherine Zidow was coach of the year.

The remainder of the all-county selections are as follows:

First team

Ashley Jackson, Berkmar

Brandi Byers, Brookwood

Rachel Johnson, Central Gwinnett

Morgan Wimmer, Collins Hill

Roselande Corneille, Dacula

Sara Beth White, Dacula

Mykala Walker, Duluth

Amanda Komisarow, GAC

Manyi Ati, Grayson

Moneshia Simmons, Mill Creek

Tiffany Clarke, Norcross

Megan Carnell, North Gwinnett

Audrey Hipple, Parkview

Brynna Robinson, Peachtree Ridge

Maggie Smith, Wesleyan

Second team

Kelsey Gratton, Brookwood

Melanie Thompson, Brookwood

Elizabeth Darden, Buford

Hallye Jerkins, Buford

Kiyomi Doscher, Collins Hill

Megan Rosburg, GAC

Emily McCloy, Grayson

Sarah Hedrick, Hebron

Ashley Jackson, Mill Creek

Briana Jordan, Norcross

Rachel Monteagudo, Norcross

Jordan Flanagan, Parkview

Amanda France, Parkview

Jazmine Washington, South Gwinnett

Grace Leah Baughn, Wesleyan

Scholar-Athlete Awards

Brasmyne Holmes, Berkmar

Allison Kanner, Brookwood

Denee Badois, Buford

Rachel Johnson, Central Gwinnett

Kiyomi Doscher, Collins Hill

Andrea Riker-Baker, Dacula

Kameron Dawson, Duluth

Amanda Komisarow, GAC

Joanna Fazio, Grayson

Jenny Conner, Hebron

Alyson White, Mill Creek

Macy Clark, Norcross

Danielle Sphire, North Gwinnett

Libby Lukens, Parkview

Jessica Gong, Peachtree Ridge

Christina Collector, Shiloh

Alyss Ballestrieri, South Gwinnett

Brooke Atkinson, Wesleyan

Honorable mention

Brasmyne Holmes, Berkmar; Jasmyn Farmer, Berkmar; Lindsey NeSmith, Central Gwinnett; Abbey Bridges, Central Gwinnett; Katherine Ahslwede, Collins Hill; Madison Kubal, Dacula; Tyler Willingham, Duluth; Daphne Adebayo, Duluth; Catherine Chason, GAC; Courtney Bishop, Hebron; Elise Murray, Hebron; Alyson White, Mill Creek; Michelle DeMaris, North Gwinnett; Shukriyyah Bascoe, Shiloh; Jordyn Wright, Shiloh; Karly Griswold, Shiloh; Michelle Phillips, South Gwinnett; Michelle Harris, South Gwinnett

- From staff reports

SideBar: ALL-COUNTY VOLLEYBALL

Player of the Year: Anne Marie Armstrong, Wesleyan

Set a new Wesleyan school record with 725 kills along with 301 digs, 81 blocks and 114 aces

Coach of the Year: Kevin Dove, Norcross

Led the Blue Devils to their second straight Area 7-AAAAA title and the Class AAAAA state tournament

First Team

Grace Leah Baughn, MH/MB, Wesleyan

277 digs, 252 kills, 27 blocks, 92 aces, 29 assists

Megan Carnell, North Gwinnett

Stats not available

Tiffany Clarke, MH/MB, Norcross

361 kills, 79 blocks, 62 aces

Roselande Corneille, S, Dacula

69 kills, 619 assists

Jordan Flanagan, L, Parkview

419 digs, 35 kills, 35 aces

Audrey Hipple, OH, Parkview

254 digs, 233 kills, 8 blocks, 92 aces

Ashley Jackson, S, Mill Creek

77 aces, 646 assists

Rachel Johnson, OH, Central Gwinnett

253 digs, 203 kills, 4 blocks, 57 aces, 86 assists

Briana Jordan, OH, Norcross

229 digs, 246 kills, 70 aces

Amanda Komisarow, OH, GAC

192 digs, 436 kills, 10 blocks, 90 aces

Megan Rosburg, OH, GAC

266 digs, 203 kills, 10 blocks, 70 aces

Moneshia Simmons, MH/MB, Mill Creek

256 kills, 108 blocks, 45 aces

Maggie Smith, S, Wesleyan

184 digs, 85 kills, 26.5 blocks, 61 aces, 1,097 assists

Sara Beth White, OH, Dacula

105 digs, 273 kills, 29 aces

Morgan Wimmer, OH, Collins Hill

255 digs, 184 kills, 20 blocks, 40 aces

Second Team

Katherine Ahslwede, S, Collins Hill

Manyi Ati, MH/MB, Grayson

Brandi Byers, MH/MB, Brookwood

Elizabeth Darden, L, Buford

Kiyomi Doscher, L, Collins Hill

Amanda France, MH/MB, Parkview

Kelsey Gratton, MH/MB, Brookwood

Ashley Jackson, OH/S, Berkmar

Sarah Hedrick, OH, Hebron

Hallye Jerkins, OH, Buford

Emily McCloy, MH/MB, Grayson

Rachel Monteagudo, S, Norcross

Brynna Robinson, S, Peachtree Ridge

Melanie Thompson, OH, Brookwood

Jazmine Washington, MH/MB, South