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HCC volleyball team signs 5 with eye on bigger things

May 14, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

For six straight years, the Hagerstown Community College volleyball team has made its presence felt at the NJCAA Division II national tournament -- finishing as high as seventh in 2007.

Hawks coach Beth Domenico hopes her latest recruiting class of five athletes -- three from the Tri-State area -- can join with a strong group of returning sophomores to push HCC to even new heights this fall.

Domenico opened the doors for Chambersburg's Ashlyn Rebok, Williamsport's Brittany Malott, Boonsboro's Emma Dalton, Loudoun Valley's Leah MacSwain and James Wood's Sara Michael at HCC's signing ceremony Wednesday evening.

"I'm very excited about this recruiting class," Domenico said. "I'm glad we got Emma and Leah as middle (hitters), that was the spot we really needed to fill. Then the setters (Rebok and Michael) committed to us and that definitely rounds out our team. We've gone the last few years with only one setter, so it's nice to recruit two."

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Rebok was a Herald-Mail All-Area First Team selection in 2008, doing everything for the Trojans and averaging 3.31 assists, 1.68 kills, 1.87 digs and 0.57 blocks per game. With Michael also in the fold -- and the possible return of Boonsboro graduate Tara Garver for her sophomore year, although her status is uncertain according to Domenico -- the Hawks have the flexibility to run a two-setter offense under Domenico for the first time.

"We're definitely thinking about a 6-2 this year," Domenico said. "This might all change once we get them in the gym, but right now we have Sara hitting over Ashlyn. Ashlyn has such a maturity on the court that is unreal for an incoming freshman, a lot of maturity and leadership."

Malott's all-around play for the Wildcats made her a Herald-Mail All-County First Team honoree in 2008, as she averaged 2.12 kills, 4.30 digs and 0.62 blocks as an outside hitter.

"I've known Brittany for years, and in the last two years I have seen her passing and defense come on so well, and that's probably what she'll be doing is more defense," Domenico said. "We're gonna have her on the outside but we're thinking more defense and passing."

Dalton was an All-County Second Team selection in 2008, averaging 2.21 kills and 0.88 blocks for the Warriors. Dalton and MacSwain will help fill the hole left by the graduation of the Hawks' only sophomore on last year's team, Kierra Nelson.

"Emma, through spring practice, is really coming on in the middle. She's very mobile and she moves well across the front row," Domenico said. "Leah puts up a very big block and she's a very heavy-handed hitter. We have a good mix of girls coming in that will round out the very solid sophomores we have coming back."

Outside hitters Rebecca Morgan (Grace Academy) and Julia Becker and defensive specialist Hailee Growden (Williamsport) are the key Hawks coming back. They got a taste of nationals and Domenico said they were left yearning for more.

"The hunger that I see in the three sophomores, they are very serious and come to the gym to work," Domenico said. "It was really hard last year with just one sophomore (Nelson) trying to tell the girls, 'This is what it's like.' Now we have a bunch of girls who have experienced it, who come into the gym and they're not playing around, they have goals and they want to work to accomplish them."

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