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Hawks have new look as season nears

August 28, 2008|By Jack Hill III

After its most successful season in school history, the Hagerstown Community College volleyball team will have almost an entirely new look in 2008.

Middle hitter Kierra Nelson (North Hagerstown) is the only player back from last year's squad, which won its fourth straight regular-season championship in the Maryland JuCo Conference and its fifth straight Region XX Tournament title before finishing seventh out of 16 teams in the NJCAA Division II national tournament to cap a 42-6 record.

Nelson will be joined by 10 freshmen, who will need to contribute right away to keep the Hawks soaring at the heights coach Beth Domenico is used to.

"The girls have been working very hard for three weeks in preseason practice," Domenico said. "Some players are learning new positions. Overall, we should have a very good team. We should be a fun team to watch. ... Kierra has really been trying to help the freshmen a little. Kierra was trying to tell them what they were in for. She is doing a really good job with the sophomore leadership."

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The Hawks open this season ranked 10th in the Division II national poll. Among the freshmen are six who starred in Washington County for their high school teams last year - setter Tara Garver (Boonsboro), outside hitter Hailee Growden (Williamsport), defensive specialist Karli Powers (North Hagerstown), outside hitter Rebecca Morgan (Grace Academy), middle hitter Katie Koontz (Williamsport) and middle/outside hitter Mar'ke Cosley (South Hagerstown).

The rest of the roster consists of defensive specialist/outside hitter Zora Beecher (Shippensburg, Pa.), right side hitter Rachel Koehler (Eldersburg, Md.), outside hitter Julia Becker (Kodiak, Alaska) and outside hitter Morena Ribeiro (Manhuacu, Brazil).

"I don't think that we are going to actually have a starting team this year," Domenico said. "We are going to have a lot of different combinations on the court. The starting lineups could vary throughout the season. We have a very good hitting team this year. We have many girls that will be able to terminate plays. I think as the season goes on, we will see much improvement with this team. There is a lot of room for us to grow. Once we work the little kinks out, I think that the team will be phenomenal."

HCC will open its season Friday, the first day of a three-day tournament at Owens Community College in Toledo, Ohio.

"We should find out more about ourselves in the tournament this weekend," Domenico said.

The Hawks' home opener is Wednesday at 6 p.m. against Anne Arundel, as HCC will try to get off to a good start in search of its fifth Maryland JuCo title in a row.

"I expect College of Southern Maryland to be our top opponent in the region again," Domenico said. "Frederick might have a good team."

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