Wednesday, December 10, 2008
BRYANT WRAPS UP INAUGURAL DIVISION I SEASON IN RECORD BOOK STYLE
The 2008-09 athletic year was supposed to be a special one in the halls of the Chace Athletic Center and the rest of the Bryant University community, but no one knew just how exceptional it would turn out to be.
And for at least one program, Bulldog volleyball, the inaugural Division I season would not simply be one for the history books, but one for the record books as well.
One of the highlights of the fall of 2008, the Bryant University volleyball team proved that it didn't need time to adjust to a new level of play - with a 16-19 overall record amid a heavyweight DI schedule, the Bulldogs proving they could fit right in.
The season began on a particularly high note, with Bryant bringing an 8-2 mark into its Division I home opener against Sacred Heart University on Sept. 16.
Three freshmen, Jazmin Stoner (Durango, Colo.), Maria Scocca (Melrose, Mass.) and Hilary Andrews (Tipp City, Ohio), would pace the Bulldogs in kills - a trend they would continue for the remainder of the season.
The trio would trade positions at the top of the kills tally almost daily, but one lead that would never change was Scocca's year-long place atop the team's total blocks.
Her 72 blocks (17s, 55a) at the end of September - when the Bulldogs stood at an impressive 11-6 overall - would grow to 109 (22s, 87a) with the final game of October and 127 (24s, 103a) with the closing of the season on Nov. 15.
September brought about a 9-5 clip, led by 100+ kills from each of the rookies and a number of hard-fought wins.
Andrews earned the season's first double-double in a 3-2 win over future Northeast Conference opponent Sacred Heart University with a 13-kill, 16-dig effort, while Scocca registered double-digit blocks with 10 (5s, 5a) in the same game. It was one of three September double-doubles for Andrews.
October brought the same type of numbers but with less favorable results by way of a 5-7 record, bringing the Bulldogs to a 16-13 overall mark. It also saw the loss of hard-hitting and high-flying sophomore Adrienne Boss (Dracut, Mass.) to injury after an Oct. 21 win over Providence College.
Three more Andrews' double-doubles came in the month, along with one from Stoner.
But the Bulldogs were without Boss for their mid-month trip to Seattle for the Dig for the Cure Classic, and the loss of the talented middle hitter hurt the Bulldogs, not just down the stretch, but immediately. Bryant went 0-3 in the tournament, falling again in their first game back. But Bryant got back on track against Providence College on Oct. 21 and kept the streak alive for three-straight contests.
WRAPPED UP A BRILLIANT
BULLDOG CAREER IN 2008,
GRADUATING AT THE TOP OF
BRYANT RECORD BOOKS.
From there, the Bulldog side entered an even tougher November. Losing the first three matches, 3-0, despite a double-double from senior co-captain Maureen Atkins (Fenton, Mo.) against Central Connecticut State (16 assists, 11 digs), Bryant found itself at an even 16-16 entering its own end-of-the-year National Transitions Challenge tournament.
A heavyweight battle among the six first-year transitional Division I schools across the country, the National Transitions Challenge featured a tough slate for the host institution, which drew Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville out of the gates.
A 3-1 loss saw bright spots in Andrews's seventh double-double of the season, where she notched 10 kills and 13 digs, while Scocca scored a team-high 13 kills.
A Game Two rematch against the University of South Dakota brought similar results as the teams' first meeting at the Seattle Dig for the Cure Classic, with the Bulldogs falling, 3-0, in both outings.
And while many games stood out as featuring spectacular efforts for individual Bulldogs - Boss's 16-kill (.696 attack pct.) performance against Quinnipiac, the 36-dig effort from senior co-captain Delia Glover (Marston Mills, Mass.) against Stony Brook, a 21-kill, 12-block (3s, 9a) double-double outing for Scocca in a win over Dartmouth - none showcased more impressive performances than the season-finale.
REGISTERED A RARE TRIPLE-
DOUBLE IN THE SEASON
FINALE TO CAP OFF ANOTHER
SPECTACULAR SEASON EN
ROUTE TO THE 2009
Despite a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to the University of North Dakota on Nov. 15's Senior Day, junior Julie Geonnotti (St. Louis Park, Minn.) proved that she had what it takes not just to lead the Bulldogs - something she will do in a captain's role in 2009 - but to leave it all out on the court as well.
The outside hitter who doubled as a setter toward the season's end shelled out a stunning performance, recording the squad's only triple-double of the season (15 kills, 21 assists, 17 digs), also becoming one of just 35 Division I athletes to accomplish the feat in 2008. She was also the only player in the Northeast Conference to come up with triple-double figures.
Geonnotti led an inspired Bulldog side, who fought hard against a team they had fallen to just a month prior, 3-0. Andrews and Stoner also chipped in impressive double-double numbers.
All-in-all on the season, the Bulldogs would finish 16-19 against a tough slate in their first Division I go-around, but they would also make their mark on the record books for their efforts.
Atkins, who was named to the Dartmouth Tourney all-tournament team for her 36 digs and seven service aces over three games, added 239 digs to her career total to finish sixth all-time with 1758 career digs. That 3.31 digs/game average places her seventh all-time, while her 196 total service aces ranks her ninth.
But it is a stunning .951 serve percentage that truly makes Atkins stand out in the books, a number that placed her atop the category in the all-time Bulldog record book. Her .971 serve percentage in 2008 alone helped that career figure and is good for No. 1 in single-season marks as well.
Glover also finishes her career with a number of top-10 program rankings. A .933 serve percentage is good for No. 5 all-time, while her 1847 career digs and 3.58 digs/game average place her at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. As for season marks, the libero's 583 digs in 2008 are good for eighth-best in a single season, making her 4.63 digs/game average rank third.
Glover earned a team-best five all-tournament selections (at Navy, at Brown, at Seattle Dig for the Cure Classic, at NJIT Halloween Classic and at Bryant's National Transitions Challenge), as well as team highs in aces (38) and digs (583).
Stoner, who started the season with the hottest hand of all the freshmen, earned a trio of all-tournament bids this season, taking the honor at the Navy Tournament, the Sacred Heart Tournament and the Crusader Classic - the 2008 campaign's first three tournaments.
Andrews's bang-up year concluded with a pair of all-tournament honors of her own, joining Stoner at Sacred Heart and Glover at the NJIT Classic, while she also finished second on the team in kills (335), points (380) and digs (286).
Scocca ended her rookie campaign with her own all-tournament nomination, coming at the Dartmouth Tournament where she recorded 45 kills and 20 total blocks (6s, 14a). She would finish the season with a team-best 343 kills, team-high 447 points and squad-best .250 attack percentage. Scocca would also lead the way at the net, recording 127 total blocks (24s, 103a).
But she would leave as many marks in the Bryant records as she did on the court.
Her 103 block assists are good for No. 8 in the single-season records, while her 127 total blocks fall into ninth. The 1.01 blocks/game she recorded is tenth. The frosh also holds a number of individual game records, including a No. 2 ranking in block assists and total blocks in a game (9a, 12tb at Dartmouth, Sept. 27) and a No. 2 ranking in points in a game (28.5 at Dartmouth).
As a team, Bryant finished with the best single-season team serve percentage in history (.922) and ranks No. 9 in team block assists (308). The Bulldogs' .515 attack percentage against St. Francis (NY) on Aug. 31 fell in at fourth all-time in team game records.
On the year, the Bulldogs went 7-6 against future Northeast Conference opponents, outscoring conference foes, 1058-973 and winning in total sets, 26-21. Bryant also led the comparison in kills (580-555), assists (512-501), aces (74-64) and digs (695-635).
Now, as Bryant reflects back on a strong opening round in Division I volleyball, it must also look to the future. Bulldog head coach Theresa Garlacy has begun the move forward with the early signing of two fresh new stars to the Bulldog family, and the Bryant coaching staff continues to look ahead with the naming of Adrienne Boss and Julie Geonnotti as 2009 captains.
And as Bryant says goodbye to Atkins and Glover and fellow senior Monika Sattler (Gruenwald, Germany), whose talents and leadership will surely be missed, it must get ready for the next battle that can't come soon enough: Division I, Year Two.