Men's Volleyball Season Recap
- Release Date:
- April 16, 2012
- The Office of Sports Information
- (716) 649-7900 ext. 333
2012 Season Review – After the graduation of two key players from the previous season, Bill Schultz and his 2012 team had some holes to fill. The Hawks pulled together and faced that challenge head on. Several first year players complemented the veterans, as they finished the season at 6-21 and broke a few records along the way. The Hawks set a new win-loss record, winning more matches since the volleyball program was established during the 2000 season and scored more set points against opponents who have traditionally dominated the Hawks. Their 2-9 United Volleyball Conference (UVC) league record tied the 2009 NECVA league record, but the 2012 Hawks faced a tougher mix of competition playing against six teams who finished ranked in the top 15 ranked programs in Division III this year.
The royal and white opened their season at the Elmira Tournament with their first shut-out win over CCNY and three three-set loses to Juniata, Thiel and Elmira; a few days later, Thiel traveled to Hilbert and grabbed another victory from the Hawks to close out January. The second month of game schedule started with home matches against cross-town rivals, D’Youville and Medaille. Hilbert took the Spartans to a four-set match while they scared the Mavericks in set one, (27-25 set score) before they surrendered the next two games. The United Volleyball Conference’s first cross over weekend was hosted by Stevens University and Hilbert went 1-2 with a five-set win over SUNYIT and two loses to Stevens and NYU. After a road UVC loss at Medaille, the Hawks faced Nazareth College, the 2011 Molton National Champion. The Golden Flyers won the first set, 25-19 before the Hawks captured their first-ever set victory against Nazareth (25-21). Hilbert played with confidence the remaining two sets even though they dropped both by identical scores (25-20). February ended with Hilbert sweeping Wells College and then being swept by Elmira.
The Hawks took their first back to back match victories at Wells when they faced the Express and Lancaster Bible College March 3rd. Hilbert beat Bard College (3-2) in the second UVC weekend cross-over games held at Nazareth College, but fell in the other remaining games on the schedule which produced their 6-21 record.
Something unique about men’s volleyball that no other team on Hilbert’s campus can experience is that the team has its primary conference (UVC) and a secondary conference (AMCC - based on the athletic program’s association in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference). Because there are three other current AMCC institutions that also sponsor men’s volleyball, the AMCC offers a one-day tournament to determine the league champion, although this conference champion does not receive a bid to the national men’s volleyball tournament. Nazareth College claimed the United Volleyball Conference championship and received the automatic bid to the 8-team NCAA Division III tournament.
Leading the way for the Hawks were first year captains Anthony Blasz and Adam Weaver. Blasz finished second on the team in blocks (32) and service aces (15) and Weaver led the Hawks in Kills (287), Kills per Set (3.30), and Hitting Percentage (.255). After only his second year at Hilbert, Weaver is 38 strikes away from becoming the Hawks All-Time Kill leader. Sophomore Fred Sickau had a big year at the net finishing with 188 kills (2.09 kps). He and Blasz were the only Hawks to play in all 90 sets this year.
Producing good numbers in the middle was junior college transfer, Scott Ross. He led the Hawks with 59 blocks (15 solo) and had the second best hitting percentage (.192) in his first year at Hilbert. Junior Adam Clabo was used as a defensive specialist and finished the season with 131 digs.
Five freshmen contributed to the growth of the program in varying degrees this year. Stephen Phillips is on track to shatter the Hilbert pass-assist record, if he is able to maintain his pace over the course of the next three seasons. He led the Hawks with 625 assists, positioning him in second place on the all-time list chasing the magic 1002 tally, and he finished with a team-best 27 service-aces. Ryan Ratajczak, with 239 digs credited to his name, is half-way there to break the All-Time Dig leader record of 503 set last season. David Mellerski, Andrew Duncan and Ryan Tofil each found ways to help the Hawks reach six wins this season. All three were used in the front line to either produce points off attacks or earn defensive stops with blocks at the net.
Weaver and Ratajczak were both named to an AMCC All-Conference team. Weaver, after being named as the AMCC Player of the Week February 27 and March 26, was honored as a 1st Team All-Conference player while Ratajczak was recognized as a 2nd Team All-Conference contributor. Weaver was named a UVC Player of the Week for his outstanding efforts during the week of March 5.
Hilbert finished the year ranked 19th in the country with 10.08 digs per set and three players were individually ranked by April 29th. Ratajczak, with 2.75 digs per set, finished the highest at 10th, Weaver finished ranked 21st with 3.3 kills per set and Phillips’ 7.18 assists per set placed him at 36th in the country.
Coaches Schultz and Nawotka are excited for the 2013 season already. Without losing anyone to graduation and the promising skills of the incoming athletes, the coaching staff and team members will continue to build the program as they focus on the UVC championship and an opportunity to win an automatic bid to the NCAA national championship.
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.