The Montgomery County public school coaches have named Northwest sophomore Jenaisya Moore as the Montgomery County Volleyball Player of the Year after her performance this season on the way to a second-straight 4A Maryland State Championship.
This is the second year-in-row that a Northwest player has been named Player of Year by the MoCo coaches. Last year, Northwest Janiece Jefferies earned the Player of the Year award. Both Jefferies and Moore are expected to return to Northwest next season.
“Having the 2015 and 2016 player of the year come from Northwest and to be returning to the court next year is amazing,” said Northwest Head Volleyball Coach Stephanie Blake.
“I was really glad to see that other coaches in the county as spectators saw in her what I saw in her,” said Blake about Jenaisya Moore. “She is not only a dominate player, but what makes her so dominate is how smart she is on the court. Her volleyball IQ is through the roof and that is what makes a good player an outstanding player.”
Janaisya had had 345 kills, 204 digs, and 36 aces this season as the Lady Jags marched toward a 20-1 overall record this season. Moore finished the season with a stellar performance in the championship game against Sherwood. She had 24 kills, seven digs, and seven blocks as the Jags beat Sherwood in three sets. In the semi-final match against Bowie, Moore had 15 kills, and seven digs.
Two other Lady Jags, junior Janiece Jefferies and senior Leilani Mayer, were named First-Team All-County, while sophomore Rachael Bennett was named to the Second-Team All-County team. Senior Anya Chepurnova was garnered Honorable Mention recognition.
“Janiece is an incredible setter,” said Blake, “she is so athletic and sees the other side of the court so well which allows her to make really smart decisions in who she sets at certain times. If you watch her before each play and you will see her shouting out orders to her hitters. She is telling them what play they are running next. She is an ‘in-charge setter’ and that is exactly how you want your setter to be. If she gets a bad pass, she somehow still manages to make it into a perfect set.”
Jefferies had 464 assists this season, and 38 blocks. In the two games in the state tournament, she had 23 assists in each game. In the semi-final game versus Bowie, she had two kills, seven digs, and two blocks.
“I was really happy to see Leilani make the first team,” said Blake. “Even though she was out the first half of the season, once she came back she was a huge player for us in the regular season and through the playoffs. She knew she needed to step up once we lost Anya and that is exactly what she did, and more. She is a very determined, hard worker and I am really proud of all she has done the past two years here at Northwest.”
In the final match against Sherwood, Mayer had six kills, while in the semi-final against Bowie she had 10 kills. She finished the season with 76 kills and 20 blocks.
Rachael Bennett, who was named to the Second-Team All-County, finished the season with 217 digs as the libero for the Lady Jags. She also had 39 aces while serving this season.
“I always tell my players if they get a kill,” said Blake, “they need to turn and thank whoever passed the ball for them and the person that got them the ball is very often Rachael Bennett. She literally gets to everything, if it is her ball, or if it isn’t. She is amazing, and she too, is only a sophomore. It’s easy to see how great my offensive players are, but without her those players wouldn’t have been able to shine the way they did.”
Senior Anya Chupanova was named Honorable Mention by the county coaches. “Anya has always been a first team player in the past,” said Blake. “Due to tearing her ACL that was not really possible this year, but what was great was how all the coaches still wanted to honor her, her skills, and her four years on a varsity team. Anya is an amazing player and I have no doubt that she will continue to be that amazing player once she is back and healthy on the court playing.”
Sherwood, who fell to Northwest in the championship match had two player named to the First-Team All-County, Kaiya Heyliger-Powell and Megan Wilson were also named. Rounding out the First-Team All-County were Isabel Nelligan of Damascus, Eleni Panagopoulos of Wootton, Laila Rogers of Richard Montgomery, and Michelle Tai of Churchill.
Damascus also had two players named to the Second-Team All-County, Sarah Bowers and Olivia Fagan. While Damascus’ Sara Gruber and Poolesville’s Caroline Leng were earned Honorable Mention. Damascus fell just short of championship losing in the 3A state final to Atholton in four sets.
Top: Northwest sophomore Jenaisya Moore (18) who was named Player of Year, hits a kill for a point in the 4A Maryland State Championships.
Next: Jenaisya Moore (18) accepting the championship medal.
Next: Junior Janiece Jefferies (9) was named to the First-Team All-County.
Next: Senior Leilani Mayer (12) receives her championship medal after winning the final match against Sherwood.
Next: Northwest sophomore Rachael Bennett (10) was named Second-Team All-County.
Next: Northwest senior Anya Chupanova (8) was named Honorable Mention by the county coaches, and Jenaisya Moore (18) was named the Player of the Year.
Next: Senior Leilani Mayer (12) lifts the championship trophy.
Photos by Germantown Pulse.