Senior Monique Russell picked up 18 digs including her 500th of the season but Stetson fell 3-1 (25-15, 23-25, 25-13, 25-14) to visiting Lipscomb in the 2012 season finale Saturday afternoon at the Edmunds Center.
The Hatters finished the year with a record of 4-31 overall, 0-18 in the Atlantic Sun.
“Even though our record didn’t necessarily show it, I liked the fact that we were competitive this year,” Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. “We had some five-game losses, and some other really close sets where we might have lost 25-23, or 25-22. So the girls got some good experience playing at a pretty high level. We just have to find a way to play more consistent, and to execute under pressure in order to win the close sets like we did in set two today.”
The Hatters played a challenging schedule and a long schedule – Stetson was the only team in Division I to play 35 regular season matches.
“Hopefully playing the tough schedule that we did and the number of matches that we played will give our younger players the experience needed so we come up on the winning end of those close matches,” Loesch said.
Several Hatter freshmen played key roles during the season. Stetson averaged better than two freshmen in the starting line-up per match this season.
“The freshmen got a lot of experience, they kind of got thrown into the fire, but I think we saw some of them really mature this year,” Loesch said. “I was very pleased with Kayla Weller, Cailyn Prewitt and Alexa Drost. They really stepped up and were dependable players for us as a freshman, and I often considered them upperclassmen. We had other freshmen contribute in spots, and some of our sophomore class stepped in and contributed as well. Morgan Pautch is kind of in-between as a redshirt freshman but she did some good things as well.”
Stetson honored its four seniors, Madison Anderson, Kelli Carneal, Samantha Freeman, and Russell prior to their final match.
“All four all great young ladies, and I would say they are all overachievers,” Loesch said. “I think that they are all talented players, but they kept working hard to get better, and they found ways to contribute and overcome injuries and illnesses to play. That’s a tribute to their determination, and I think that is going to serve them well in life.”
Despite the record, the Hatters managed to stay a tight-knit group throughout the season.
“Our junior class, Mel Melville and Ellen Hawks, who we are going to rely on a lot next year, were key components to that as captains,” Loesch said. “We are definitely going to miss the seniors, but I am confident that those two will pick up the leadership and keep our team moving forward.”
Russell finished the year with 509 digs to become the only Hatter in school history to record 500 digs in a single-season. She also leaves as Stetson’s career digs leader (1448), and she did not miss a match in her four years, playing 117 contests in a row.
Carneal and Freeman also surpassed 100 matches played during their Hatter careers. Freeman compiled 235 blocks, the fourth highest total in school history since 2001. Carneal, meanwhile, dished out 2269 assists, marking the sixth highest total for a Hatter all-time, and the second-most since 2001.
Madison Anderson tallied 71 kills and 62 digs in her 68 matches played.
Other Season Notes: Kaley Melville became the first Hatter in 10 years to record over 300 kills and 300 digs in a single-season … Ellen Hawks set the single-season blocks record (rally scoring era) with 115 blocks … Cailyn Prewitt the recorded the third-highest kill total all-time for a Hatter freshman (248).