Men's Volleyball 2012 Season Preview
- Release Date:
- January 29, 2012
- The Office of Sports Information
- (716) 649-7900 ext. 333
The 2011 men's volleyball season was one of change, and, with sixty-percent of the roster made up of first year Hilbert players, the 2012 season promises to be more of the same.
Head coach Bill Schultz welcomed back four returning players, three freshmen and three transfer student-athletes to wear this season’s blue and white. How quickly the new players adapt to the faster and more powerful college game along with the improvement of the returning Hawks will be a big factor in determining the team’s success this season. The Hawks will have to learn fast in order to keep pace with the rest of the teams in the increasingly competitive United Volleyball Conference (UVC).
New captains, sophomore Adam Weaver (Stow, OH/Archbishop Hoban) and junior Anthony Blasz (Eden, NY/Eden) are expected to be strong role models by setting good examples for the new players. Weaver, who led the team in 2011 with 236 kills (3.87kills/set) looks to offensively and defensively improve on a promising rookie season while Blasz will likely play a variety of roles after leading the team with 63 blocks (.76 blocks/set) last season. Both will have to showcase their leadership ability, skill, and consistency in order to guide the Hawks through a defining season.
Junior Adam Clabo (North Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Wheatfield) and junior Frederick Sickau (Eden, NY/Eden) round out the returning Hawk players from a season ago. Sickau was among the team leaders in kills (154) and blocks (44) last year and he expects to unlock his true potential this season. Clabo will return to a defensive role in the back row after his strong performance in 2011, finishing in the team’s top three in digs with 149.
With the addition of three transfers in the off-season, the Hawks have added a strong core of sophomores and juniors. Junior Scott Ross (Grand Island, NY/Grand Island/D'YC/NCCC) looks to give the team an athletic presence in the middle to pair with Blasz. Sophomore Ryan Tofil (Westfield, NY/Westfield/JCC) is expected to provide solid depth at the middle and outside positions while adapting to the college game.
The Hawks also added a few first-year college players with the addition of a lanky Andrew Duncan (Valencia, CA/Golden Valley), setter Steve Phillips (Penfield, NY/Penfield), defensive specialist Dave Mellerski (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park) and Ryan Ratajczak (Orchard Park, NY/Orchard Park/Buffalo State). Duncan looks to improve his game each day by adding a big block and some offense from the right side, while Mellerski's versatility allows him to step into just about any position when needed. Rochester native Steve Phillips is poised to take control of the Hilbert offense from the setter position; his setter’s mentality and skills will give his hitters a good chance to put the ball away at the net. Ratajczak will provide plenty of energy on the court, and, with Clabo will form a solid defensive duo in the libero position.
After a trying first season at the helm, Coach Schultz, with the help of Andy Nawotka, aim to have an improved sophomore season. Expectations remain high for the coaches and their players as a tough season awaits the young team. Hilbert starts their 2012 season at the Elmira Tournament before a critical stretch of eight games which include six conference match-ups. UVC games will be a big test for the Hawks as six of their ten conference opponents appear in the pre-season Top 15 Division III rankings: Nazareth (1), NYU (4), Stevens (8), Medaille (11), SUNY New Paltz (13), and Vassar (15).
The team will travel to Hoboken, NJ February 11 and 12 for a UVC cross-over weekend hosted by Stevens Institute of Technology. One month later, March 10 and 11, Nazareth College (Rochester, NY) will host the second cross-over weekend. Hilbert also travels to Beverly, MA to participate in the Endicott College tournament (March 24 and 25) before they participate in the very first Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference (AMCC) men’s volleyball one-day championship tournament (April 7).
Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 1,100 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs, one a master’s in criminal justice administration and the other a master’s in public administration, and new Accelerated Degree Programs geared to adult learners.