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HCC women ready for national test

November 12, 2003|by DAN KAUFFMAN

kauffman@herald-mail.com

No matter where Megan Miller and Keri Jackson go, success seems to follow.

Having both on the volleyball court at the same time has proved to be a winning combination for Hagerstown Community College.

The freshmen who won high school state titles last year - Miller as the leader of Williamsport's Maryland Class 1A champion and Jackson as a part of a terrific trio of seniors which brought the West Virginia Class AAA crown to Hedgesville for the first time - are at it again, paving the way for the Hawks, who play Thursday in the NJCAA Division II national tournament at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio.

"I think them coming from state championship teams helped because they're both used to winning," HCC coach Beth Domenico said. "They don't know what it's like to lose."

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Miller earned MVP honors as the Hawks won the Region XX title 10 days ago to lock up their place at nationals.

"I always push myself to the max," Miller said. "Being on a team like this and having as many good players as we do, it's definitely an honor to be named MVP of a tournament."

This year's Hawks are a small group - eight players make up the entire roster - but also a close-knit and talented one. Freshman Ashley Michael is a Grace Academy graduate who was part of two ACSI Northeast Region championship teams. Sophomore Chelsea Jolliffe played at Williamsport and sophomore Mandy Myers attended Boonsboro (she did not play volleyball until this year).

Sisters Shea and Amanda Storms and Emily Beecher played their high school ball in Pennsylvania, the Storms at Northern and Beecher at Big Spring.

"Every player on this team has put something into every win we've had this season," Domenico said.

But without question, it's Miller and Jackson - both two-time Herald-Mail All-Area selections - leading the way. And as usual, when Miller is involved, chances are she's having a good time.

"There's objective-oriented people who say this is what we need to do and this is how we can do it," Miller said. "I'm the type of person who says, 'If we're having fun, we're going to be OK.'"

That outlook has rubbed off on the rest of the team, including Jackson.

"I learned to go with the flow and have fun," Jackson said. "If you can't have fun on the court, there's no point in playing."

"(The team) plays best when they have fun," Domenico said, "so I'm going to tell them to enjoy it and remember it for years to come."

HCC opens pool play Thursday in the 12-team tournament and will face each of the other five teams in its pool twice. The top two teams in each pool advance to the national semifinals.

While both players know what it's like to achieve the highest goal, the chance for a national championship carries a little more significance.

"This is so much bigger," Jackson said. "Being a national champion is so much more prestigious. It'd be fabulous if we could pull it out and win."

But even if the Hawks fail to reach the summit, they're going to enjoy trying tp climb the mountain. After all, these girls just wanna have fun.

"Yes, it's a national tournament," Miller said, "but it's still just volleyball."

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