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Black signs to play at Saint Francis

April 23, 2010|By DAN KAUFFMAN
  • Smithsburg senior Colleen Black signed a letter-of-intent to play volleyball for Saint Francis beginning this fall. From left to right: Kelli Black (mother), Smithsburg volleyball coach Rachel Brashear, Colleen Black, coach Joe Dietrich and Jay Black (father).
By Dan Kauffman, Staff writer

SMITHSBURG -- Smithsburg senior Colleen Black, a three-time All-MVAL Antietam Volleyball First Team honoree who helped the Leopards finish 19-0 and win the Maryland Class 1A state title last fall, signed a letter-of-intent to play for NCAA Division I program Saint Francis on Thursday.

"It's a very beautiful campus. They have a lot to offer," Black said. "I'm going into education and they have a great education program. They're also very involved with the athletes. The players get along great. I had a roundtable discussion with them that I loved. I met with the coaches and the athletic director and all of them were very nice and welcoming. I thought it was the right place to go."

Black will receive a $21,000 athletic scholarship and a $5,000 academic scholarship per year, covering nearly her full tuition.

"She was part of the beginning of our turnaround," Smithsburg coach Rachel Brashear said. "She came in as a freshman, started four years and was a great leader by example. She worked hard and got it done, and she deserves this."

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The Leopards improved every year Black played, going from 5-11 her freshman year to 7-8 her sophomore year and 11-6 her junior year before an amazing senior year.

"Her freshman year, she may not have been ready for that (starting) role, but I thought the only way she'd get better was with that experience," Brashear said. "It may have been intimidating to be thrown in as a starter her freshman year, but it paid off.

"If you look at Colleen from freshman year to now, and even from a junior to now, I knew she hit the ball hard as a junior but she hit it so much harder as a senior. She's maturing into her body and getting better, and she'll continue to get better in college. She has made herself into a great volleyball player."

Black averaged 2.74 kills and 0.83 blocks her sophomore year, 2.70 kills and 0.55 blocks her junior year, and 2.82 kills and 0.80 blocks her senior year for the Leopards.

While she didn't start for Smithsburg her senior year -- coming off the bench behind junior Sara Rishell, the 2009 Herald-Mail Washington County Player of the Year -- Black was a vital part of the Leopards' championship and showed maturity and leadership by accepting and thriving in her secondary role.

"Everyone had a role on the team. My role was that secondary role and I was fine with that," Black said. "I was there when they needed me, and I think that helped us win states."

Given a chance to be front and center at the 2009 All-Star Spikefest, Black led all players with 22 kills and five blocks.

Saint Francis is located in Loretto, Pa., and plays in the Northeast Conference -- the same conference as Mount St. Mary's.

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