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Freshmen have Hawks thinking big

August 25, 2006|by JACK HILL III / Staff Correspondent

An infusion of new talent has the Hagerstown Community College volleyball team thinking big.

While only one sophomore returns from last year's team, the influx of talented freshmen - 12 newcomers in all - gives the Hawks almost twice as many players as they had in 2005.

"I think, all-around, that we have depth at every position," HCC coach Beth Domenico said. "We are going to be a good defensive team again. Our team has good defensive players and good passers. We have really strong hitters. They are not really tall, but they are smart hitters and they can hold their own. All of the players will be contributing to the success of the team."

The Hawks' road to becoming a contender at the NJCAA Division II national level reached new hieghts last year. HCC finished 49-2, won its third straight Maryland JuCo title with a 12-0 conference record and added its third straight Region XX Tournament championship. The Hawks capped their season by going 2-2 at the national tournament, making it out of pool play for the first time in school history.

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As the team's only sophomore, outside hitter Karey Toms (Waynesboro) will step into the leadership role. She ranked in the Maryland JuCo top 10 last year in kills, digs, aces and hitting efficiency.

Three of HCC's 12 freshmen starred at Williamsport, the reigning four-time Maryland Class 1A state champion - outside hitter and 2005 Herald-Mail Player of the Year Sammi Snodderly, middle hitter Lauren Brown and setter Lea Drury.

Three more come from Boonsboro, Williamsport's toughest rival over the past two seasons and the MVAL Antietam Conference champion last season - setter Jessica Ambrose, outside hitter Caitlyn Selby and defensive specialist Kim Snavely.

Setter Kayla Martin and defensive specialist Molly Powell are from Smithsburg.

The rest of the freshman class includes middle hitter China Miller (South Hagerstown), defensive specialist Mandi Mentzer (Greencastle), defensive specialist Taylor Munson (Hedgesville) and outside hitter Nikki Wirth (Broadneck in Annapolis, Md.)

"We're going to have a strong team," Domenico said. "Even though we only have one sophomore, a lot of the freshmen have played together in high school and on club volleyball teams. A lot of the players are familiar with each other. Our goal again is to win the Region XX Tournament and go back to the nationals."

The Hawks open up their season at the Kellogg's Tournament in Battle Creek, Mich., today and Saturday. The tournament includes most of the teams ranked in the top 15 in the nation. HCC's first match will be against host Kellogg.

"We're really excited about getting our season started and we're really excited about going to Michigan and going up against teams that could be at the nationals," Domenico said.

HCC will open its home schedule on Sept. 8 against Frederick.

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