For Marykate Sherkness, her supporting cast couldn't have been any different.
Yet, the end result proved to be exactly the same.
For the second straight season, Sherkness continued her reign as "Queen of the Court," as the Marian junior has once again been recognized as the 2011 TIMES NEWS Volleyball Player of the Year.
As a sophomore, Sherkness captured Player of the Year honors as a role player among an experienced roster consisting of six senior starters.
This year, however, she proved to be the glue that held together a roster of underclassmen that was comprised of four sophomores and four freshmen, all of whom were making their varsity debuts.
Certainly, a big adjustment for any elite student athlete, but one which Sherkness welcomed and accepted.
"I've been playing with the Marian program since seventh grade and I've learned so much in such a short amount of time," stated Sherkness. "Not only volleyball skills but life skills as well. Knowing that I can take what I learned and apply it on the court to help my team and be recognized for this award is not only a great feeling, but it's also a tremendous honor."
Sherkness continues a time-honored tradition of being the 18th consecutive TIMES NEWS Volleyball Player of the Year from Marian, a streak that dates back to 1994, when Brianne Homyak won the first of her three Player of the Year accolades. Since then, 13 Fillies have accomplished the feat with Sherkness joining Homyak, Maria Poluka, Mary Horvat, and Jill Homyak as multiple winners.
"Marykate is extremely dedicated to the sport and she puts the time and effort in year round to be the best volleyball player she can be," stated Marian head coach John "Doc" Fallabel. "When she's not playing with us, she plays with the Synergy Volleyball Club down in Easton, and I'm pretty sure that last winter, she was named as one of the top 200 sophomores in the entire country."
As of member of the Synergy 16-and-under team participating in the Keystone Region Volleyball Association (KRVA), she competed in the Junior Nationals in Atlanta this past June where her team placed 17th nationally.
A three-year starting outside hitter for Marian, Sherkness helped guide a very young and inexperienced team to a 15-3 record and Schuylkill League Division 4 Championship.
In addition, Sherkness was recognized as the two-time Schuylkill League Division 4 Player of the Year, a three-time District 11 Class A All-District First Team Selection and a two-time Pennsylvania Volleyball Coaches Association (PVCA) All-State selection.
"I don't play volleyball for records and awards, I play for the love of the game," added Sherkness. "I've had the privilege of playing with great teammates and great coaches over the last few years and I couldn't have accomplished any of this without them."
This past year, Sherkness broke her own record for kills in a season (previously 479 kills set last year) with 564 kills on 1,122 attacks, which was good for a .380 hitting percentage. In addition, she accumulated 285 digs, 104 aces and 25 blocks.
However, perhaps her greatest accomplishment is her career kills record of 1,194 (564 as a junior, 479 as a sophomore and 151 as a freshman). She is the first Marian player to exceed 1,000 kills for her career, and in doing so, shattered Jen Blasko's previous career kills record of 853 (2001-2004).
Sherkness also has 678 career digs (6th all-time), 209 career aces (3rd all-time) and 79 career blocks.
"Marykate is just a natural athlete and I saw her potential the first time I ever saw her swing at a ball when she was 13 years old," added Fallabel. "God gave her something that a lot of people just don't have."
"Going into this season with a freshman setter and no other established hitters on the team, the plan was to get the ball to Marykate wherever she was on the court and she responded very well."
Now, with one more year left, the only question that remains is if Sherkness is the best player to ever put on a Marian uniform.
"Jen Blasko and Brianne Homyak were the best athletes, Jill Homyak was the best leader, Mary Horvat had the best personality and Kayla Poluka had the best volleyball IQ; so to compare them all is like comparing apples to oranges as to what each one of them meant to their respective teams," lauded Fallabel. "As far as Marykate goes, she is without a doubt one of the greatest hitters we've ever had, but for her to truly to be the best ever, she needs to get to States and that's my job to help get her there."
Next year, the supporting cast will remain the same.
Hopefully, the end result makes the difference.