Volleyball notes - Local talent has Hawks flying high

October 14, 2005|by DAN KAUFFMAN

On the wings of seven players - all from three high schools within 15 miles of campus - Hagerstown Community College is flying as high, if not higher, than the Hawks ever have.

What HCC's roster lacks in numbers, it more than makes up for in talent. Behind Williamsport graduates Lindsey Plotner, Staci Grabill and Katie Spoonire, Smithsburg grads Amanda Conway and Brittany Meadows and Waynesboro grads Karey Toms and Savanah Wetzel, the Hawks are 34-2, ranked 20th in NJCAA Division II and pointed toward their third consecutive national tournament appearance should they take care of business in the Region XX tournament.

"Each year, it's getting better and better," HCC coach Beth Domenico said. "We're getting our name out there. Each year we're making small steps, and they're going to keep climbing that ladder."


Domenico points to the wealth of talent developed by the area's many strong high school programs as the main factor in the Hawks' rise.

"It helps us a lot," she said. "Every year when parents talk to us, we tell them if the top players out of Washington County would come to HCC, we'd have national tournament teams each year.

"If all the top Tri-State players came, we would definitely have a national title team."

The Hawks - whose national title hopes have been dashed quickly in the last two seasons - have been competitive in losses to second-ranked Kellogg Community College (Flint, Mich.) and fifth-ranked Vincennes (Ind.). Though the lack of stiff competition in Maryland JuCo is a hindrance to HCC's development (the Hawks are 9-0 and have yet to be pushed in league play), the talent is in place for a better showing at nationals.

"The last couple years, we were relying on maybe two players, but this year every single player is relied on to win games, and that's the difference," Domenico said. "These girls all know how to win, and all want to win. They have a slightly different mindset this year, in that they don't work with losing at all.

"After we lost to Kellogg, we really did not play well and the girls were like, 'We could have beat them.' That's what nationals is like. Every team is like that. I think in our region, that is the biggest obstacle to overcome, to come out with intensity and having intensity for every point. We just have to (play) better competition, that's important for learning how to play and how to keep your intensity up"

Lions looking good

When one thinks of volleyball powerhouses in the Tri-State area in recent years, the list looks something like this: Williamsport, Smithsburg, Boonsboro, Thomas Johnson, Chambersburg, James Buchanan, Greencastle, McConnellsburg and Hedgesville. This season, Musselman has joined Hedgesville at the top of the Eastern Panhandle heap.

Oops. Forgot Broadfording.

Yes, Broadfording. Year in and year out, this small, private Christian school puts together a quality team.

This year's Lions are among the school's most ferocious. Broadfording is 12-0 in nontournament matches (11-0 in the Mason Dixon Christian Conference), finished second to Berlin (Pa.) in the McConnellsburg Tournament (which also included Greencastle and North Hagerstown) and won the National Christian Schools Athletic Association tournament.

How would Broadfording fare against some of those other volleyball powerhouses? That's a question Lions coach Sarah Derr would love to have answered.

"We're interested. We want to play those schools," Derr said. "Our principal may talk to James Buchanan. Anything to give these girls a good level of play."

Broadfording is led by the terrific duo of Tina Conner (area-best 94 aces, 2.55 kills per game) and Cindel Young (4.41 kills per game, second-best in the area).

"(Tina) has a lot of heart and a lot of desire, and she's willing to work hard, roll up her sleeves and get dirty," Derr said. "She's very scrappy, she tries to make an attack out of everything.

"(Cindel) does well wherever you put her. She can get up pretty high and pound it at the 10-foot line when she's on. The level we play at doesn't show how good she can be. She can also play defense."

Leslie Brown (4.88 assists per game) helps Broadfording's offense click.

"She's really improved a lot just in the last part of this season," Derr said. "She's setting the ball from anywhere on or off the court, so she's definitely key."

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