2010 Season Review: The Hilbert College men’s volleyball team had the most successful campaign to date since joining the North East Collegiate Volleyball Association (NECVA) seven years ago. Program victories against opponents who consistently dominated the Hawks in previous seasons were on-court high-lights for third year head coach Andy Walker. But, it was the off-the-court academic dedication his team displayed this season which draws as much praise from Walker. With continued dedication by the returning student-athletes and an infusion of future talent, the Hawks will continue to grow and be competitive on the court.
The royal and white started their 2010 season off hosting 6 matches at the Hafner Recreation Center in early January. After an opening weekend against the College Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Medaille College, the team then had to wait 12 days before their next match on January 22nd. The Hawks went 4 – 12 in that 4 match-weekend, but during that time frame, the home team grabbed a set from D’Youville College (30-28) and 2 sets from SUNYIT (30-16, 30-27) which had never happened in any of the previous six seasons. After a quick trip to the 2-day SUNYIT tournament at the end of January, the Hawks returned to campus having picked up their first win of the season over Regis College in a 3 straight set victory. Medaille College was not prepared for the new and improved Hawks when Hilbert grabbed their first game victory from the Mavericks in set two (30-18). The Hawks then forced the visitors to refocus for their next two sets (18-30, 22-30) to earn the win. While the team traveled to the Endicott 12- team tournament in Boston, MA, they faced some tough competition yet still picked up their second win of the season (5-set match over SUNYIT) and went 4-11. The only Western Division rival in the NECVA which Hilbert couldn’t crack was Nazareth College, the eventual 2010 NECVA champion.
Every player on the roster this winter contributed in their own special way to make this team click. The offensive leader was clearly 6’3 junior Dan Wolfe (Irondequoit, NY/Irondequoit). The outside hitter led the team in kills (224) and digs (218) and finished his third season ranked #9 in NCAA with 3.26 digs per game. Wolfe was named to the Honorable Mention tournament team at the Endicott Tourney in February. Working alongside of Wolfe was another junior Richard James (RJ) Sykora (Stow, OH/Munroe Falls) who became as much the vocal leader as the floor general. Sykora was a consistent player finishing second in team kills (180), tied for first in service aces (28), second in digs and nationally ranked #17 in digs per game (2.88). Junior Eric Davies was another net minder and having played his second season of competitive volleyball, he continued to develop his timing at the net with each game. Davies (Tonawanda, NY/Tonawanda) lead the group with 37 total blocks (14 solo and 23 assisted), and was third on the team in kills (92). The main quarterback on the squad was Vince Amico (Buffalo, NY) for the second year in a row. The 5’8” graduate of Bishop Timon-St. Jude continues to develop his quickness and technique to deliver the ball to his hitters. His team assist total was an astounding 533 which ranked in #28 (7.79 assists per game) in the NCAA national leaders list. The squad benefited from four first year players. Anthony Blasz (Eden, NY/Eden) tied with Sykora with 28 total service aces and had 23 total blocks his first year. Adam Clabo (No. Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Wheatfield) stepped into the libero roll after spending the off-season recovering from minor knee surgery. Gary Gawera (Eden, NY/Eden) joined the team as an all-around player who could contribute as a back-up setter (9 assists) and outside hitter. And the one player who never was mentioned all year was Rob Moyes from Chico, CA (Pleasant Valley Baptist). Moyes was on the floor in special situation to add an extra set of long arms to block the ball and to rest Amico.
As a team, the Hawks finished ranked #3 in digs per game (12.84) in the national statistical category. They were also ranked in aces per game (1.52 - #29), hitting percentage (1.37 - #31); blocks per game (1.61 - #36), kills per game (8.88 - #40) and assists per game (8.14 - #39). All the while, the eight gentlemen were working diligently in the classroom to secure an overall 3.122 cumulative grade point average earning a NECVA Academic Team Award. Individually, juniors Davies and Sykora, as well as sophomore Amico, were named to the 2010 NECVA All Academic team having maintained a cumulative grade point average of higher than 3.50.
To view the volleyball team’s game notes, click here.