By Chayim Tauber
“Big things are on the horizon for Maverick volleyball.”
That’s according to Mavericks’ coach Alan Clements, who admits that though this year is a re-building year, the program is well on its way to being a force in the ECC.
Don’t let the record fool you, he warns. A 5-11 record certainly isn’t any indication of promise, but there are several indications that things are changing at Mercy and that there is potential.
“(When I came here) I saw a program that was made up of a lot of athletes who played other sports, and volleyball was kind of just a second sport to them. What I did was bring in volleyball players,” said Clements.
Foremost amongst those “volleyball players” is freshman phenom Brenna White.
White was recently named to the ECC honor roll and was the ECC player of the week in October. She hit an insane 27 kills in the Mavericks’ loss to Franklin Pierce and added an astounding 26 kills vs. Le Moyne. White is the undisputed breakout star of the season and despite the accolades, is still underappreciated league-wide, according to Clement.
“She was the player of the week and made the honor roll, but that’s not enough. She doesn’t get the credit she deserves, and that’s our fault. If we were 10-5 instead of 5-10, they’d be talking about her as the best in the league,” Clement said. “When she’s done here, she could be known as the greatest player Mercy’s ever had.”
There are a couple of reasons the Mavs are only 5-11. The first, according to Clement, is that he has an exceptionally young team. His team has five freshmen who are finding their niche on the team. In addition to finding their niche, the kids on the team are struggling to find their voice as well. The Mavs have a “captain by committee” with no clear leader. According to Clement, the freshmen, though desperate to win, don’t want to be too vocal because they don’t want to step on toes of the teams’ more senior members.
That doesn’t mean they’re not putting in the time or effort though. According to Clement, though, there’s a core group of five freshmen that stay behind and continue to work out after practice.
“I left after practice, and when I came back, about five of them were still there practicing, working on their serves.”
The one thing all that dedication and extra practice can’t provide, however, is height. White is the team’s lone hitter, and it’s the league’s worst kept secret at this point.
“The thing that we need to do to help Brenna is bring in some more girls next year who can also hit because (Franklin Pierce and Stonehill) were triple blocking her,” Clement said. “We’ve already started recruiting for next year.”
Despite the team’s struggles (particularly in conference play), fan attendance hasn’t suffered at all; most games, in fact, are played before standing-room-only crowds. A lot of that has to do with the fact that as Clement put it, “people love watching girls pounding the ball and we get kills.” But more important than just watching Brenna, is the team’s character. When asked how he’d sum up his team in one word, Clement responded “gritty.”
“Our girls are diving all over the place, crashing into stands, doing anything they can to get to a ball” explained Clement. That scrappiness is the same attribute that drew New Yorkers to the NY Knicks of the 90’s, an analogy that Clement took favorably.
“Yes, this year is a rebuilding year” Clement ceded, “but we have good defense, two great All-State setters, and Brenna….”
Clement has built the nucleus making Mercy a serious contender, and it’s only a matter of time before the Mavs are not only more competitive, but start racking up the wins as well.
Brenna White has been tearing it up for the Mavericks