Owning one of the best one-year turnarounds in the nation, the 2013 Stetson volleyball season will go down as one of the finest in program history. During the season the Hatters broke records, reached milestones, earned awards, and accomplished feats the program had not seen for years.
“This team worked extremely hard from the first day of pre-season to the last point of our final game," Stetson head coach Tim Loesch said. "They improved their skills, fitness and most importantly their chemistry. Their attitudes, communication, work ethic, and unity is what I am most proud of.”
Here is a look back at Stetson's historic season.
Stetson was breaking new ground right off the bat as the team won its season-opener for the first time since 2004. The Hatters soon compiled their first five-match win streak since 1988, which included a sweep of the Stetson Westin Classic at the Edmunds Center. Later the Hatters produced their first seven-match win streak since 1986, resulting in the team's best 18-game start in school history (13-5).
The team also got off to a great start in Atlantic Sun play with five-set victories over UNF and Jacksonville, and four-set victories over Mercer and Kennesaw State. With a 4-0 league record the Hatters claimed sole possession of first place in the A-Sun on Sept. 28. Stetson also started the year 10-0 at home.
As the season progressed the Hatters continued to pick up conference victories. Then on Nov. 2, Stetson defeated Florida Gulf Coast 3-1 on the road to clinch the program's first postseason berth in 18 years.
The Hatters would later fall to FGCU in the Atlantic Sun quarterfinals, finishing the season with a record of 18-16, overall and 9-9 in A-Sun matches. The 18 wins was the most for the program since 1988, and the nine conference wins marked a new school record.
Senior Kaley Melville, one of just three players in the league to record over 400 kills and 300 digs, earned Atlantic Sun Second Team All-Conference honors. It was the first time a Stetson player had recorded first or second-team accolades since 2004. Tiffany Creamer earned all-freshman team honors after being selected four times as the league's Freshman of the Week during the regular season. Ellen Hawks earned the league's Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 9, and Melville was named A-Sun Player of the Week on Sept. 23.
Stetson set new team records in the rally-scoring era for most kills (1588), assists (1487), digs (1849), and blocks (225.5). Melville set the new single-season kills record in the rally-scoring era (417), Kayla Weller set the all-time single-season assists record (1269), and Ellen Hawks set the single-season blocks record in the rally-scoring era (121).
Melville also set the single-match kills record in the rally-scoring era (28 vs. UNF on Sept. 20), and Alexa Drost tied the single-match digs record in the rally-scoring era (32 at FGCU, Nov. 2).
Thank You Seniors
The Hatters owed a lot of the season's success to the on-the-court play and behind-the-scenes leadership of senior co-captains Melville and Hawks. The pair spent countless hours over the summer preparing for the season and made team chemistry a priority during preseason training.
Neither Melville nor Hawks missed a single-match during their careers, a total of 123 contests overall. Melville finished her career second in school history in kills (1282), third in digs (1203), and the only Hatter to ever surpass both 1200 kills and 1200 digs in a career.
Hawks, meanwhile, in her very last match, reached the 400 blocks total for her career, the highest total in school history in the rally scoring era, and the fourth-highest total in Atlantic Sun history. Her .229 attack percentage also placed among the top 10 players in school history.
“Mel and Ellen have given blood, sweat and tears in their time with Stetson volleyball," Loesch said. "They have played through injuries, worked hard on fitness and they were always emotionally invested. This season they gave even more – growing as leaders, selflessly helping teammates succeed, keeping positive attitudes and promoting team unity. They were a big part of our turnaround this year and I am glad that they were rewarded with a memorable senior season.”
Stetson's freshmen class provided a great deal of production in 2013, none more so than Creamer. The Newnan, Ga. native ranked second on the team and second among all A-Sun freshmen in kills (358) and kills-per-set (2.89). She was selected as the league's Freshman of the Week four times during the season, and earned Atlantic Sun All-Freshman Team honors following the season.
Madison Akins also had some big matches for the Hatters, including double-digit kills vs. Idaho, Providence, Kennesaw, and Upstate, plus 19 digs against UNF. Akins earned all-tournament team honors at the Stetson Westin Classic.
Madison Akins, Julie Bassett, Abby Boll, Shannon Craighead, Tiffany Creamer, Evann Dickerson, Alexa Drost, McKenna Foster, Michelle Kaster, Ellen Hawks, Kaley Melville, Morgan Pautsch, Cailyn Prewitt, Kayla Weller, Erika White, Danika Yoder
Tim Loesch, Meghan Bryant, Danielle Biaso, Kaley Ream, Brittany Rowe, Jamie Bataille
“I am thankful that every member of this team sacrificed a lot of time and energy toward achieving our goals," Loesch said. "Giving maximum effort, being coachable, overcoming illness and injury, becoming better teammates and playing as one. I am very proud of all them and what we accomplished.”