Cobras Volleyball finishes off another strong season
Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 12:12
The 2011 Cobras volleyball season was a season of many triumphs and few disappointments as the team finished off the year with a 41-8 record and a 9th place finish at the national tournament.
The team dropped their opening round match to 13th seeded MCC-Longview in heartbreaking fashion after five sets, pushing them to the consolation bracket instead of the desired winner's bracket. They then proceeded to bounce back nicely in knocking off defending champ Pasco-Hernando, Iowa Central and Johnson County to win the consolation bracket. "It illustrates the desire and passion of this team," Hastings said. "We had the ammunition to take the whole thing this year; we just didn't get it done that first match."
The Cobras started the year with high expectations, with #5 ranking in the preseason Division II polls. They also faced the challenge of introducing seven new freshmen to their first year of college volleyball. Sophomores Nechelle Veal, Melanie Moore and Devin Houser took it upon themselves to help the freshmen adjust. "We just told them that that we had to work as a team and play our game," sophomore setter Melanie Moore said, and the freshmen helped the team do just that. Freshmen middle hitters Shelby Geers and Morgan Martells as well as outside hitter Shannon Boone led the team in total kills and kills per minute, immediately making their presence known for the Cobras.
The adjustment to the college game proved no factor as the Cobras soared out to an 8-0 start before losing to 17th ranked Johnson County of Kansas in the fourth game of the Owens CC Tournament. The Cobras managed a difficult schedule in impressive fashion going 14-6 against ranked teams including sweeping the two matches with eighth ranked Illinois Central College and both matches against seventh ranked Kishwaukee. They also picked up convincing wins over fourth ranked Owens CC and 13th ranked Muskegon CC. This tough slate was all in preparation for a potential national berth. "It prepared us to play hard to work towards nationals," Moore said. "A lot of the teams we played in the regular season we saw in the postseason." Middle hitter Shelby Geers added, "I think it prepared us a lot, unlike many other teams at nationals. We played a bunch of ranked teams at different tournaments which definitely helped." Coach Cliff Hastings was happy with the way his team responded to the challenge, adding that "these girls wouldn't have it any other way, their level of play and desire increases immensely when playing good teams." The Cobras finished the regular season 35-6. Parkland College then rolled through the Region 24 tournament with ease, knocking off Illinois Central College for a third time in the final, 3-0 to advance to nationals.
A key aspect to this season for the Cobras was their ability to play well as a team, which allowed them to be extraordinarily consistent every game against great competition. "Everyone had their own role on the team and that's why we connected so well together," sophomore Melanie Moore pointed out, "we were able to work as a team of ten." Geers, noting that the Cobras had an abundance of aces off serves this year, said, "our serves were really impressive. Our serve receives and blocking were great all year too." Head Hastings stresses to his teams every year that there must be a balance between individual growth and team growth. "We need to build the girls individual ability to communicate, be confident and passionate about who they are as young women off the court to make our team successful." Hastings is quick to point out that he saw his team buying into what he was trying to teach all year and that it was very evident in matches.
This year's Cobras used their strong bonds on and off the court to build team chemistry, understand concepts and get better every day. This ultimately led to great success on the court for the newcomers and the continuation of great careers for sophomores Nechelle Veal, Melanie Moore, and Devin Houser. The team's success led to many individual awards as well. Sophomore setter Melanie Moore, who led the team in assists; and freshman middle hitter Morgan Martells, who led the team in kills received All-American and Region 24 First Team honors. Freshman outside hitter Shannon Boone and sophomore right hitter Nechelle Veal received Second Team Region 24 honors. Freshman middle hitter Shelby Geers and setter Megan Scharnett received Region 24 Honorable Mention. After the national tournament was completed, Shelby Geers was named to the All Tournament team. The Parkland volleyball program has a lot to look forward to next year with seven players returning from a great 2011 team.