Friday December 28, 2012

Numbers don't lie. But that's only part of the reason why Michala Dean is the All-Eagle volleyball most valuable player.

She may have been the only player in the county to crack the 300-kill mark and she also finished up with an impressive 162 digs. But for a Mount Greylock team that was rebuilding on the fly from a team that went 18-0 in the regular season 12 months ago to not making the tournament this year, the Greylock senior's leadership was also a big factor in her success.

Paul, who just finished his eighth season as Greylock's coach, had nothing but praise for how Dean handled things and how she never let it impact her game.

"She took it really well," said Greylock coach Phil Paul. "It was frustrating at times. We had 34 wins in a row. Her senior year as captain, it was a little frustrating that we didn't win like we were used to."

Dean's 301 kills were the most in Berkshire County and she had a 72.3 percent success rate. But playing at the net was only part of what she did for the Mounties.

Paul said that he would play her anywhere on the floor and she would do whatever was needed. Case in point: Dean had 196 assists for the Mounties. She was also outstanding on defense with 162 digs -- as good a number as anyone in Berkshire County put together.

Dean was a two-time All-Eagle selection coming into the season, so her skill and competitive levels were well established. So her on-the-court role was fairly well established.


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It was in practice and off the court where Dean took a real leadership role and helped her less experienced teammates. The mentor role was a positive one, but one that helped Dean as well.

"They helped me become the player I became. They helped me become more supportive," she said.

Dean was more supportive of her team off the court, and her statistics demonstrated her support in competition.

Only one time did Dean not have double-figure kill totals. Statistically, her best night might have come on Oct. 5 against Taconic when she recorded 31 kills and 17 digs. One match later, she had a 23-kill, 21-dig performance.

Now that the high school season is over, Dean will begin playing for the Western Mass. Berkshire County Crush club team. Much like the way she helped her teammates and vice versa, Dean said playing for her club team has helped make her the player she is today.

"It's more competitive. It helped me in high school by preparing me for anything," she said. "My high school season helped me improve my skills. It gets me more touches and gets me ready for [the club season]."

In eight years, Paul has now coached two All-Eagle MVPs, as Dean's sister Chelsea also earned the honor. Chelsea Dean is now playing volleyball at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C. Michala wants to join her sister and play at the next level. She is not sure where she going to go to school.

"I'm going to play, yes. I'm going to play in college," Michala Dean said.

The current MVP was asked to give a scouting report comparing her play with that of her sister, a former MVP.

"I'm better at setting and she's more of a defensive player. She has more digs," Michala said.

Paul said Michala Dean is probably one of the three best players he's ever coached. The Greylock mentor did, however, amend that thought, and moved Michala up the chart a bit.

"As an overall player, because of her setting ability, probably No. 1," he said.

To reach Howard Herman:
hherman@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6253.
On Twitter: @howardherman.