2011 Season Review: The 2011 men’s volleyball team had a few “firsts” this season. First year collegiate head coach Bill Schultz took a relatively young team into a newly formed United Volleyball Conference (UVC) with expectations for playing their best team volleyball as the season progressed. First year players contributed immediately in the stat sheet and were recognized within the conference for their skills. The Hawks finished with one win to their credit but continued to improve as the season wound down challenging top teams before falling in defeat.
The royal and white opened their season at the SUNYIT Tournament before hosting D’Youville College at the end of January. The UVC hosted cross-over weekends allowing long distance conference opponents an opportunity to play each other without the extensive travel time. Hilbert dropped both matches played in the western NY area as well as a non-conference match against Medaille. The Hawks traveled to Boston, MA to participate in the Endicott Tournament for the second year in a row. In their game against Emerson, Hilbert took a 4-set match for their first victory of the season. Back home in Hamburg, the Hawks dropped a conference match to Elmira before going back on the road to Nazareth and D’Youville for two more UVC matches. Hilbert hosted Thiel College to close out February and lost a close 4-set non-conference match, after capturing the first set 25-20.
March found the Hawks traveling to their second cross-over weekend hosted by Vassar College. Hilbert dropped three matches in Poughkeepsie before finishing off their March schedule back home. After their 3-set loss to eventual Molton Div. III national champions, Nazareth College, the royal and white turned the corner and started to really play some solid volleyball. Medaille College fought for their 3-set victory (25-23, 27-25, 25-22) as did EMU (25-20, 25-20, 22-25, 25-19). Hilbert closed the season out with a loss in a weather-related, rescheduled road game at Elmira College.
With only two seniors on the team, the Hawks relied on strong play from Dan Wolfe (Rochester, NY/Irondequoit) and RJ Sykora (Stow, OH/Stow Munroe Falls). The duet became inter-changeable rotating positions between outside hitter and setter. Both seniors did whatever they could on the court to help find a win. Wolfe became the All Time Kill leader (560) while serving as a secondary setter during the season. Sykora lead the Hawks with assists (337), digs (190) and cheers. Sophomores Anthony Blasz (Eden, NY/Eden), Adam Clabo (Niagara Falls, NY/Niagara Wheatfield), Gary Gawera (Eden, NY/Eden) and Rob Moyes (Chico, CA/Pleasant Valley Baptist) were role players looking to fill the holes where they could. Blasz (team leader blocks – 63) and Moyes were most active at the net, while Clabo (149 digs) and Gawera (127 digs) served as defensive specialist.
Rookies Adam Weaver (Stow, OH/Archbishop Hoban) and Fred Sickau (Eden, NY/Eden) grew into their roles and were relied upon more and more as the season progressed. Weaver led the team in kills (236), hitting percentage (.278), and points per set (4.37) even though he missed three weeks of the season due to an ankle injury. During the six weeks he was able to compete, Weaver was honored as the UVC Rookie of the Week three times and was named to the UVC Honorable Mention All-Conference team, only the second rookie named to any of the three squads. Sickau, in Weaver’s absence, became a more confident hitter and had his best game against Thiel College with 19 kills and no errors with a .543 hitting percentage.
Coaches Schultz and assistant coach Nawotka understand they will be hard -pressed to replace Wolfe and Sykora, two solid players who carried the Hawks during their years on the team. But with the expected improvement in the returning players plus the addition of new talent into the program next fall, the Hawks volleyball team will be fighting for a chance to win the United Volleyball Conference which will give them an automatic bid to the first ever NCAA Division III National Men’s Volleyball Championship in 2012.
To view the 2011 men’s volleyball season recap, click (here