On Friday, October 19th, the CSM Volleyball team finished on a high note as they defeated the Trojans of Allegeny College of MD in three straight sets (25-11, 25-15, 25-18). Zaiera Duckett led the Hawks with 16 kills, four aces, and three digs. Reagan Tuiasosopo and Gabrielle Wilson each had five kills and combined for 15 digs and three aces.
After the results against the Trojans, the Hawks won their final two games of the season, including an epic five set match against Anne Arundel on Sophomore night. CSM finished with a record of 5-14, 3-9 in conference play. Yet their record does not display the hard work the girls put into this season, considering the challenges they faced all year.
The season began with a team who had players who have had very little volleyball experience, some of them playing a high level of competitive volleyball for the first time in their lives. With the leadership of Reagan Tuiasosopo and Savannah Carroll, who both played on last year's team, and the addition of setter and co-captain Samantha Rerig, the goal of the season was not to win every game. Rather, it was to get better each and every day. While losing their first 11 games of the season, there was a consistency of improvement every step of the way. It paid off in the Raptors Invitational when they earned their first win of the season against Howard County CC.
"We are all very excited for the girls and proud of their fight and determination to play hard throughout this past weekend's tournament," said Head Coach Zenica Leonard after the Hawks earned their first victory of the season. "It seemed that all the hard work the team has put in since the beginning of the season finally paid off."
That last statement can summarize their entire season. Despite the scores recorded after each match, the Hawks were able to improve each and every day. When the calendar switched to the month of October, the Hawks won four of their last six games. It is safe to say that earning their first win in the Raptors Invitational was the turning point of the season.
"It was a turning point because it was the first win of the season, which was meaningful," said middle hitter Katelyn Kluh. "It shows us that we were capable of and sets a standard and goal for us to move towards next season."
With the finish the Hawks had to their season, it goes to show that hard work will pay off and these wins can help build momentum into next year.
"All of the girls have improved tremendously since we stepped foot in the gym back in August," added Leonard. "The results were able to show hard they team was working individually and as a team to grow and develop together."
"It's about working hard and not getting into your head to much," said Kluh who finished the season with 76 points, 34 kills, 31 blocks, and 17 digs this season. "We all wanted to do our best, and when the team realized how much fun they were having, we were able to smile, laugh, and play to our potential."
With an increased role in playing time from last year to this year, CSM's other Co-Captain, Reagan Tuiasosopo was able to improve as a player in addition to her leadership. She increased her statistics from last year to this year significantly, with margins of +71.5 in total points, +94 in digs, and +56 in kills. In her CSM career she finished with 169.5 points, 130 digs, and 124 kills. Savannah Carrol, the second returning player from last year's team, was able to improve as well. The sophomore right side hitter had 41.5 points, led the team in aces with 13, 34 digs, and 15 kills. She would finish her CSM career with margins of plus six in kills, plus eight in aces, +23 in points, and +28 in digs.
In addition to Kluh, a big addition to the team this year was right side hitter Zaiera Duckett. As a freshman, Duckett led the Hawks in points and kills with 155.5 and 126 respectively. With her ability to play all positions on the court, she was able to be versatile and showed to be a dominant force on the offensive end of the court. She earned All-Tournament Honors at the Raptor Invitational and proved that the sky is only the limit for her potential. In addition to overall points and kills, Duckett also had 91 digs. Both Duckett and Kluh give Leonard, better known as "Coach Z", pieces to build around for next season.
Year one of the Jenica Leonard era at CSM is complete. The team's hard work truly paid off as the player development of the team was able to come to fruition at the end of the season. With two players like Duckett and Kluh coming back next year, the only direction the Hawks can go next year is forward.