Wildcat Women Look to Reclaim Volleyball Championship

Published 09.11.2006


The 2006 Wildcat women's volleyball teamTwo years ago, the Pennsylvania College of Technology women's volleyball team won its first conference championship. Last season, it finished second, but that wasn't good enough. The Lady Wildcats want to win it all again.

"My girls decided they are going to take back their championship. They're set on that," coach Bambi Hawkins said, as her squad prepared for its season opener Tuesday at Penn State Scranton.

For the first time in Hawkins' seven seasons as coach, the Lady Wildcats had 19 players out for the team and cuts had to be made to trim the roster to 15. Of them, nine are returnees from teams that went 33-12 over the past two years.

"I think that the ladies, they get people excited about playing here. They put a lot of effort into spreading the word and letting people know they've got a program they're proud of," Hawkins said.

Among those vying for starting positions in the early season are Elizabeth Mast (outside hitter/Morgantown), Melani Grady (setter/Youngsville) and Maria McNett (outside hitter/Canton), juniors Maria Bova (Libero/Bethlehem), Courtney Eisenhofer (middle hitter/Leesport) and Sara Gamble (outside hitter/Ulysses) and freshman Angela Sweely (outside hitter/Mansfield).

Others with collegiate experience who will add to the team's depth are senior Johncie Clark (middle hitter/Imler), and sophomores Janell Thompson (middle hitter/Westfield) and Karla Neiman (outside hitter/New Oxford).

Also on the team are freshmen Alyssa Covas (outside hitter/Pottsville), Jennifer Delosa (outside hitter/Bellefonte), Michelle McNett (setter/Canton), Courtney Worthington (setter/Liberty) and Ashley Oswald (middle hitter/Altoona).

"I have so much talent on this team.... Everybody is a key.... I'm amazed because the freshmen that we have coming, there are some in the starting lineup and I'm anticipating that, as the season goes, they'll be able to step into those other positions and help out right along.... I've got options (because of the depth)," Hawkins said.

"The girls have some power this year, as far as hitting. I'm looking for them to change it up a little bit and work on the smart plays as well," Hawkins said of the team's offense.

Bova has been a strong defensive player throughout her career, but she won't be relied on as heavily this season because others are stepping up.

"(We just need to) stay healthy this year. That was one of the toughest things about last year when people's ankles or knees got taken out. We have an awesome athletic trainer, Katie Greene, but she can only do so much. We need prayers to keep the girls healthy," said Hawkins, who is assisted by former Wildcat player Amber Geckle.

"I'm fortunate to always end up with a really good group of young ladies and I look forward to watching them mesh together into a team. It's fun to watch the dynamics,"she added.

(Complete rosters and schedules on available on the college's Athletics Web site.)