- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
The St. Mary’s College of Maryland volleyball team begin the 2012 season having lost three standouts.
Middle blocker Gena Hilavinka, a first-team All-Capital Athletic Conference selection, outside hitter Shannon Fitzpatrick and defensive specialist Kasey Stanton have graduated and move on. The three parting seniors were instrumental in the team’s 2008 CAC championship appearance when the Seahawks posted the program’s best-ever conference record of 7-1..
Moving forward to 2012, the Seahawks have picked up new talent that head coach Morris Davis is looking for great things from.
Morris has a group of 16 ladies who are excited to get back on the court. Setter Dani Thorne, one of the returning Seahawks, said that the team definitely improved throughout the 2011 campaign.
“We had one of the toughest schedules in the conference last year,” Thorne said. “We turned things around and stayed strong at the end of the season. Our conference is strong and Salisbury is always tough. There definitely wasn’t a game where we thought we had it, we had tough games.”
Thorne said that she and the other three seniors outside hitters Cecilia Blanc and Jenn Rindone and right-side hitter/outside hitter Shelby Mullennix are meshing well. She added that it’s tough to replace a player like Hilavinka, but she’s confident that the skillset will come for those that are coming into their own now on the team.
“We’re looking great,” Thorne said. “I know it’s tough to come in as a freshmen, but they have stepped up. We’re all trying to help the younger girls. In our spring season, which is more individually focused, we got a lot of hitting practices in and worked on our technique.”
Thorne also said that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London really fired her up to play this season.
“Volleyball is not a sport you see a lot of on television,” Thorne said, “and to see that much volleyball on the court was great and now my friends are telling me they’re going to come and watch the games more. They didn’t think volleyball was as fast-paced as it is. It’s a really fun game to watch. I’m more fired up to play this season.”
Mullennix, a 2009 Leonardtown High School graduate from California, and said that her experience as a Division III student-athlete at St. Mary’s will impact her for the rest of her life.
“I have already made countless memories that I will cherish and some of the best friends and teammates I know I will ever have,” Mullennix said in a recent interview on St. Mary’s College’s athletics website. “I have played in the most intense, exciting, and vigorous matches of my athletic career and at the same time have had the most enlightening, passionate and instructive class discussion in my academic history.”
Mullennix and the Seahawks begin the season Saturday when they travel to North Carolina Wesleyan to take on Randolph-Macon (Va.) and North Carolina Wesleyan.
“I am incredibly optimistic and excited about the season,” Mullennix said to Southern Maryland Newspapers. “We just finished the best pre-season that I have had in my four years and I know it is going to translate into success on the court.
Davis, who enters his ninth season as head coach, said he has a good group this year who are eager to learn and get on the court.
“I definitely feel that they are capable of handling themselves and I can also go deeper into my bench than I have been able to in the past.” Morris said.
The Seahawks have also welcomed an unofficial assistant to the team in Elizabeth Clem, who ironically ran into Hilavinka at the University of Colorado and asked Hilavinka about the team and Clem found herself helping the team out.