Today: Heather Kerley.

Sport: Volleyball.

College: University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Position: Setter.

Year: Freshman.

High school: Elizabeth Seton (Class of 1999).

This season: Kerley is the starting setter for the Retrievers, the defending Northeast Conference champions, and she leads the team with 553 assists (or seven assists per game). In mid-September, Kerley was named the NEC rookie of the week after a solid performance at the North Carolina State tournament. She had a total of 142 assists, 10 kills, 4 aces and 17 digs in three matches (victories over Campbell and Liberty and a loss to North Carolina State).

Career: Kerley, a two-time All-Met, recorded roughly 1,800 assists during her four-year varsity career at the Bladensburg private school. As a junior, Kerley had 375 assists to lead the 20-6 Roadrunners to second place in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament. The following season, she helped Elizabeth Seton to the regular season WCAC championship. Kerley, a Lanham resident, has been a member of the U.S. National Deaf Olympic Team since 1996.

"I think everyone expected Heather to go to college and get a scholarship, because she loves the game of volleyball. Ever since I've known Heather, volleyball has been a big part of her life," Elizabeth Seton Athletic Director Mary Beth Dwyer said.

"She still comes back to the school, and she's been to a couple of the high school games this year. She sat on the bench with her mother [Terri Kerley, Seton's head volleyball coach] and tried to motivate the players. She's a chip off the old block," Dwyer said. "She makes the time to help out. Heather gave a lot to Seton, but Seton also gave a lot to her, and I think she wants to give something back."

Q & A with Kerley

Extra: What kind of adjustments did you have to make, moving up to college volleyball?

Kerley: "It was hard at first. At Seton, I started all four years, and I was one of the better players. It's a new game here. I have to compete to get the position I want, and there's always someone tailing me. . . . In high school volleyball, your coach is there to push you. In college, the coach doesn't care--you either perform, or you don't play. You have to be more self-motivated in college."

Extra: How is it different playing on a team without your mother as the coach?

Kerley: "It's a new leaf, a new game, and a time to try new things. Playing for my mother was difficult at times for me and the people around me. Here, everyone comes in the same way--the coach doesn't know you. I think that's cool. You have to establish your own relationship with the coach."

Extra: What do you enjoy most about college volleyball?

Kerley: "The competitiveness. The game becomes so much more competitive. You put your whole body into it. In high school, you have games, games, games, and no one is committed. In club volleyball, you have tournaments, but no single games. In college, one game can make or break your season. There's so much passion involved. Players in college are so passionate about volleyball, and that makes it more fun."

Extra: What do you miss most about high school volleyball?

Kerley: "I miss the closeness of the team, and the friendships. At Seton, we had a very close group. We were best friends, and some of us still keep in touch."

Extra: Why do you return to Seton to watch your former team play?

Kerley: "The kids on the team make me smile. They're always excited, like 'Oh, Heather's coming!' and that makes me happy. I usually come as someone who watches, but the players do ask for pointers from me, so I'm also there to help them out."

Extra: What was it like watching your former team play?

Kerley: "It was sad because I miss the lightness of the sport [at the high school level]. But at the same time, I knew that I wanted to move on."

CAPTION: UMBC setter Heather Kerley was a two-time All-Met at Elizabeth Seton.