CSM volleyball soars in 2016
Youthful Hawks win league title, looking to advance in 2017
Heading into the 2016 fall sea- son with only two returning play- ers and a handful of freshmen for a team that would have a thin group of reserves, it would have been easy to expect the College Of Southern Maryland volley- ball team to enter their recent campaign with far more trepida- tion than anticipation.
But over the course of the season the CSM volleyball (168 overall, 10-1 MDJUCO) over- came its youthful inexperience and jelled into a formidable squad that captured the Mary- land Junior College Athletic Conference regular season title before being eliminated in the NJCAA Region XX tournament semifinals. Instead of simply enduring the growing pains of a building season, the CSM volleyball squad established the foundation for a very bright future.
“I was very proud of what these ladies accomplished this season,” CSM head volleyball coach Ashley Wolfe said. “We only had two returning players [Elizabeth Ravancho, a Westlake High School graduate from Waldorf, and Milana Caliman] and seven freshmen and these young ladies all jelled together on and off the court. They really looked to help one another improve at every practice and ever y match.”
Among the incoming group of freshmen were two La Plata High School graduates, Ashley Hall of Hughesville and Brandie Todd of Charlotte Hall, as well as players from other Southern Maryland Athletic Conference schools, including Kiana Bopp (a Northern High School graduate from Chesapeake Beach), Sabrina Driver (a McDonough High School graduate from White Plains), Taylor Hagen (a Huntingtown High School graduate from Huntingtown) and Kelley Ingram (a North Point High School graduate from Waldorf).
“It was fun having all of these players from different schools in SMAC come together,” Todd said. “We talked about the matches that we played against each other, but we also wanted to help each other get better. It was an exciting season and now we’re really excited about next year. We were able to achieve a lot this year with a lot of freshmen, so we’re excited about next season.”
CSM had several solid win streaks during the season and the Hawks appeared to be peaking at the right time heading into the Region XX Division II tournament. CSM won three straight matches in September before ending the month by getting swept by Hagerstown Community College, but the Hawks went 7-2 in October,
ending the slate on a five-match win streak.
“I really thought we came together on the last part of the season,” Wolfe said. “We lost a couple of matches at Potomac State [W.Va.], but we came back and won our last five matches and ended up taking first place in the Maryland JUCO standings and then heading into the Region XX tournament with a lot of momentum. We didn’t get as far as we wanted [losing in the semifinals], but I was very happy with the season.”
CSM won its last five regular season matches against Mont- gomery College in straight sets, needed five sets to upend Harford Community College then swept both Lord Fairfax (Va.) and CCBC-Essex before needing just four sets to down Allegany College. The Hawks then swept CCBC-Essex in the opening round of the Region XX tournament before falling in the semifinals to Hagerstown.
“The way that we ended the season was really special,” Todd said. “We only had two returning players and the rest were freshmen who came from
different schools and played a different style of volleyball, but we were able to overcome all of that and work together. It was exciting, but I think we’re even more excited about what this team can accomplish next year.”
Wolfe and her assistant coaches have been busy scouting and recruiting players for the 2017 season and looking well past that for potential players for 2018, 2019 and even 2020. The Hawks immense success this past fall, despite the team’s youth and lack of depth, has enabled Wolfe and her coaches to approach potential players with a stronger hand.
“We had a good recruiting class come in this fall and we’re going to have a very good freshmen group next year,” Wolfe said. “We’re already looking at this year’s high school juniors and we’re even looking at some of the middle schools. We want to encourage a lot of the younger girls to start playing and play club and keep getting better and then come play for us someday.”