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HCC volleyball starts season in NJCAA top 10

August 29, 2009|By JACK HILL III/Staff Correspondent

After finishing 11th in the nation last year, the Hagerstown Community College volleyball team begins the 2009 season ranked 10th in the NJCAA preseason poll and coach Beth Domenico expects big things to happen.

"We are doing very well this year in practice," Domenico said. "I think that we are a lot further advanced this year than we were at this time last year."

HCC finished 34-11 overall and 12-0 in the Maryland JuCo Conference to win its second straight regular-season title and fifth in six years. The Hawks also won their sixth straight Region XX Tournament title.

Four starters from last year's squad return, led by outside hitter Rebecca Morgan (Grace Academy), who earned honorable mention in All-American voting last season. Outside hitter Julia Becker (Kodiak, Alaska), libero Hailee Growden (Williamsport) and setter Tara Garver (Boonsboro) also were starters last season, while defensive specialist Zora Beecher (Big Spring, Pa.) returns for her sophomore season.

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"My sophomores definitely know what we have to do to be ranked higher than we were last year," Domenico said. "They are really leading the team in that direction. I think overall we have better sophomore leadership this year. Hopefully that can take us further than we went last year."

Domenico has brought in six freshmen this season, including setter Ashley Rebok (Chambersburg, Pa.), outside hitter and defensive specialist Brittany Malott (Williamsport), middle hitter Emma Dalton (Boonsboro), middle hitter Leah MacSwain (Loudoun Valley, Va.), setter Sara Michael (James Wood, Va.) and outside hitter Klonarda Nezaj (Tirane, Albania).

"Our freshmen came in with a lot of volleyball knowledge," Domenico said. "We can get right into playing instead of spending time going over things that they already know."

Domenico said she thinks the Hawks will be strong at the net.

"I feel like that we are going to be a better blocking team this year," Domenico added. "We should be hitting the ball better. Morgan and Becker have improved their hitting game and they are only going to get better."

The Hawks open their season at home Monday at 7 p.m. against Essex. HCC will host the Region XX Tournament on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

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