UMES VOLLEYBALL OPENS WITH WINS AND AWARDS AS THEY PREPARE TO HOST UMES INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT
Sophomre Jana Milin was named MEAC Player of the Week when she broke a school record this past weekend.
Sophomre Jana Milin was named MEAC Player of the Week when she broke a school record this past weekend.

Sept. 3, 2003

Sept. 3, 2003 - (PRINCESS ANNE, MD)-The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) Volleyball Team returned from an opening tournament at Hampton University picking up where they left off last season. The Hawks (4-1) went into the Labor Day tournament hoping to pick up some first place hardware but came away with the second place trophy. "I am really proud of the team," said Head Coach Toby Rens. "We didn't win the tournament but the performance we put on is something to build on."

It certainly was. That performance Rens spoke of saw all Hawks play and go undefeated until the championship match. It also garnered all conference honors for Jana Milin, last season's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) player and rookie of the year, who earned week one MEAC player of the week accolades. She wasn't the only one as freshman setter Sanda Dzile earned Rookie of the Week. They did it in style.

Milin, who played in a total of four matches, tallied 107 kills (6.29 per game), 26 digs, and five aces. In the semi-final match Milin notched 40 kills, a new school record, and then followed it up with 30 more in the championship match. That gives her membership twice already this short season in the American Volleyball Coaches Association's 30-Kill Club, a feat she accomplished seven times last season.

Dzile, a freshman from Bauska, Latvia was not to be outdone. She recorded a school record 50 assists in one match against Alabama A & M University. Playing in the same four matches she racked up 165 assists, 12 kills, 29 digs, six blocks, and nine service aces.

"Wow," said Rens. "Until I saw the box score I didn't realize how impressive those numbers were. We have played five matches and set two school records, I think the UMES fans will have something to look forward to this season." The Hawks faced three MEAC teams in the tournament, and while they did not count as conference matches UMES sent a message to the MEAC foes. They blanked Norfolk State in the opening match 3-0 (30-13, 30-14, and 30-14.) They then turned around to shut down Delaware State 3-0 (30-23, 30-19, 30-26) in a match where Rens rested his starters. "Delaware State has a good team but I saw the match as a chance for our younger players to get some action and build on their game at the Division I level. It worked out as we were better prepared for Alabama A & M." Their other match against a MEAC foe was in the semi-final round against the host Hampton Lady Pirates. While it took the Hawks five games to beat them (3-2) they did so by scores of 30-25, 33-31, 26-30, 31-33, and 15-8. UMES faced the Bulldogs of Alabama A & M in the championship just one day after handing them their first loss of the season 3-2 (30-26, 30-24, 21-30, 25-30, 15-9.) The Bulldogs returned the favor when it counted taking a 3-2 win by scores of 30-26, 31-33, 17-30, 30-21, and 15-17, a tie breaker in the final game. "A tough loss to swallow for us but we will be sharp this weekend," added Rens who has his Hawks ready to host the UMES Invitational this coming Friday and Saturday, September 5th and 6th. "I expect us to win our own tournament," he said. "After all it has our name on it."

Hawk Volleyball is on the right track, finishing third in the competitive MEAC last season and predicted by a coach's poll to be second this season to perennial favorite Florida A & M. "This weekend kicks off the home stand and I hope the area comes out to witness just how good we have become," said new Athletic Director Nelson Townsend. "This is my first season of Hawk Volleyball and I expect with Coach Rens at the helm it will be a good one."

The UMES Invitational starts on Friday morning at 11:00 am with matches involving Charleston Southern, Farleigh Dickinson, Central Connecticut State, and Norfolk State. The Hawks take the court at 2:00 pm against the Spartans of Norfolk State and again at 5:00 pm versus St. Francis of New York. Matches resume on Saturday at 11:00 am and continue on with UMES at 1:00 pm vs. Farleigh Dickinson and then at 4:00 pm or 6:00 pm depending on records in the tournament. All matches are free to the public and take place in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center on the campus of UMES.

"It will be a great opportunity for the campus and community to see our incredible volleyball team, our beautiful facilities, and to share in the Hawk Experience," said Townsend; "and hopefully they can see a UMES Championship while they are here, added Rens.