The Montgomery County Community College Mustangs hosted their first annual Volleyball Alumnae Game on Thursday, Oct. 11.
The volleyball team is now in its third year of competition. In 2010 the team competed in the Eastern Pennsylvania Collegiate Conference (EPCC) and earned the EPCC Championship title. The following year the team transferred to Region XIX of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA). In an impressive debut season, the volleyball team won the NJCAA Region XIX Championship, marking their dominance for a second year in a row.
Alumnae from both former championship teams attended the event to compete against the current players on the 2012 Mustangs team and to witness the unveiling of the program's championship banners.
Mustangs Head Coach Misti Volpe kicked off the Alumnae Game with the banner unveiling ceremony. As Volpe spoke of the past seasons, Assistant Coach Megan Eiser revealed the banners, which now hang over the volleyball courts at Montgomery County Community College's Central Campus in Blue Bell, Pa.
"We decided to unveil the banners during our alumnae event so we could honor the players who contributed to the championship wins," said Volpe. "We thought it would be especially significant for them."
Seven alumnae were present for the ceremony. As the banners were revealed, cheers filled the gymnasium and hugs were exchanged.
"The banners looked amazing and it was great to see all our names on them," commented 2010 alumna Steph Angelucci. "I looked over at my former teammates and felt real pride in what we were able to achieve."
Angelucci was named the EPCC's Most Valuable Player in 2010, setting the standard high for Mustangs following in her footsteps. Her sister Mel Angelucci also played on the team in 2010 and 2011. She was named NJCAA Region XIX Tournament Most Valuable Player in 2011. Both Angelucci sisters are in the process of completing the Medical Assisting Certificate at the College. They stay involved with the volleyball program as volunteer assistants, along with Marina Weckner of the 2011 championship team. Weckner was also in attendance and is a current student at the College, completing coursework in Secondary Education.
Well-known alumna Brianna Musselman was present at the event as well. Musselman played on both the 2010 and 2011 squads. She was named an All-American nominee, NJCAA Region XIX Player of the Year and Mustangs Female Student-Athlete of the Year in 2011. She will be completing her Hospitality Management degree at the College this year.
Sharnae Johnson, Danielle Timbario and Corey Trego rounded out the 2010 championship team representatives. Johnson is in the Paramedic Training program at Star Academy in Philadelphia. Both Timbario and Trego completed their coursework at MCCC and transferred to West Chester University to complete a four-year degree. Timbario is earning a Bachelor's in Math Education, while Trego is completing a Bachelor's in Early Childhood Education.
After the banner ceremony the teams got down to business. Coach Volpe led her 2012 Mustangs squad while Assistant Coach Stephen Volpe led the alumnae team. The alumnae proved to be formidable opponents for the current Mustangs team, battling it out in a grueling five set match.
The teams matched each other point-for-point in nearly every play of the evening but the 2012 players prevailed as the overall champions of the night.
In game one the alumnae came out energized and ready to play, capturing a resounding 25-17 victory over the 2012 team. But the current players answered back with a 25-21 win in game two and a 25-14 win in game three. The alumnae, determined to push through, earned a 25-23 victory in game four, sending the teams to the 15-point final set.
Each team brought everything in its arsenal to the floor, driven to win the first annual Alumnae Championship title. The 2012 players were down 9-14 when the tides drastically turned off an alumna's missed serve. Freshman Alex Griffin stepped up to the line to serve seven straight points, including four aces, stealing the 16-14 victory for the current team.
Talent and effort were spread across the board for both teams. Nikki Reichert of the 2012 team and Steph Angelucci of the alumnae team both managed close to 30 assists. Middles Kendall Gazzo and Chelsea Knowles of the 2012 team squared off against alumnae middles Musselman and Johnson, earning kills and blocking each other closely. Weckner and Trego played as alumnae outsides, keeping tempo with Griffin and Liz Herezi from the 2012 team.
Jen Casatelli played opposite for the current team, nailing hard cross-court kills throughout the evening. Alumna opposite Timbario answered back with blazing kills of her own. Both teams showcased immaculate serve-receive patterns, which were anchored by Mel Angelucci of the alumnae team and Kelsey Kowalick and Niki Gass of the 2012 team.
"I was so proud to see so many of my girls come back for this event," said Volpe. "I try to stay in touch as much as possible because I want to know how they are doing in life, where their paths are taking them."
Volpe has been cognizant of the importance of her role as a leader and mentor for the volleyball players. The teams' successes are partially due to her knack for gelling the cohesive units and developing a family feel within the program.
"It gave me a special sense of pride to see my kids, both past and present, interacting and mingling with each other this evening," Volpe commented with a sentimental smile. "I couldn't have asked for better groups over the years and I'm looking forward to more events like this."
Volpe's team has only a few more regular season competitions left this year. With a standing record of 15-5 overall and 12-3 in the conference, the team has already clinched a spot in the NJCAA Region XIX post-season tournament.
Hopes are high to continue the championship streak. Check back often at the Mustangs website (MustangsAthletics.com) for updates about upcoming tournament information.