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Bittersweet season end to season does not stop volleyball ambitions

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The Hilltoppers are graduating six seniors after this season.

The Hilltoppers are graduating six seniors after this season.

The Hilltoppers are graduating six seniors after this season.


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Following a tough loss to the University of Arkansas Fort Smith, UA-Fort Smith, in the Heartland Conference Championship game, the St. Edward’s University volleyball team ended the 2012 fall season with a second-place finish in conference. The Hilltoppers lost the game at Fort Smith on Nov. 17 in four sets: 17-25, 28-26, 21-25 and 16-25.

UA-Fort Smith is ranked 23rd in the nation for Division II volleyball, and senior setter Mary McNamara said the Hilltoppers knew it would be a tough match.

“A lot of us knew stepping on the court that this could be the last game, but no one even wanted to think about that. It was ‘hey we’re going to go win this game,’” McNamara said.

Overall, the St. Edward’s volleyball team finished the 2012 season with an overall record of 18 wins and 10 losses.

Following the tournament, sophomore outside hitter Mary Koehler and senior libero Michelle Hundt both earned spots on the Heartland Conference All-Tournament Team. Seven players from the entire Heartland Conference placed on the team, including three players from UA-Fort Smith, one from Texas A&M-International and one from Dallas Baptist.

Despite the recent loss, both Head Coach Sean Donahue and McNamara agreed that the season was successful because the Hilltoppers achieved goals the team set at the beginning of the season.

“I felt it was a good season. We definitely kept improving each and every match,” Donahue said.  “We were in the finals of the conference tournament, which was one of our goals.” 

Donahue and McNamara both said the team strives to create a strong feeling of unity between the players, both on and off the court.

“We really created a family feel with this team,” Donahue said.

McNamara said the team worked hard to foster a community atmosphere that would last after this season.

“We had a lot of seniors … a lot of young people and only one junior. A lot of our attitude was that this was our last season to give everything we have got. It is not just about us, and it is about the team in general,” McNamara said. “How can we create that for the teams next year even if we are not going to be there?” 

With six graduating seniors, the volleyball team signed five players to join the team in the fall of 2013.

“For next year, we have already committed five on early sign-in. Will we pick up a sixth or not, we do not know yet,” Donahue said.

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Bittersweet season end to season does not stop volleyball ambitions