Volleyball off to hot start
10.02.2017 | By Amanda Fenwick
PASADENA, Texas – Hurricane Harvey not only delayed the start of the academic year for students at San Jacinto College, it also delayed the start to the volleyball season. However, the San Jac volleyball team hasn’t let that affect their play on the court 13 matches in to the 2017 season.
“This was definitely a start to the season that we were not expecting,” said Head Coach Sharon Nelson, now in her 16th season at the helm of the San Jacinto College volleyball program. “I’m proud of how we came back into the gym after Harvey and picked up where we left off in preseason training, and we’re ready to finish the season strong.”
Following the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey, the San Jacinto College volleyball team began accepting donations of water, insect repellent and non-perishable food items to deliver to areas affected by the storm. The giving spirit caught on, as other teams within Region XIV also donated items to help those in need. The San Jac volleyball team was able to deliver supplies to Rockport, Texas, an area that took a direct hit from Hurricane Harvey, as well as help out locally in the community. The team volunteered at a Red Cross shelter in Pasadena and donated boxes of food and medical/personal hygiene supplies to Memorial Baptist Church.
“It was the least we could do to help those who were deeply affected by Harvey,” said Nelson. “It was humbling to see other teams in our Region, those who are rivals on the court, reach out to us and want to assist with donations. We were blessed to be able to help those in need.”
On the court, the team hasn’t missed a beat. Thirteen matches in it stands at 10-3 overall, including 3-1 in conference play. Madison Rhoder (Sugar Land / Fort Bend Stephen F. Austin HS) leads the team, averaging 3.10 kills (35th nationally) and 1.24 blocks (14th nationally) per set. The sophomore middle blocker was last year’s Region XIV Player of the Year, and a National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) and American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) first team all-American.
“Our mindset this year is to win. We want to come back this year and be conference champions,” said Rhoder.
Defensively, San Jac is led by sophomores Addie Bryant (San Antonio / Johnson HS) and Mir Tillman (Sugar Land / Fort Bend Stephen F. Austin HS). Bryant leads the team in total digs (145) and digs per set (5.37, 8th nationally), while Tillman totals 66 and 2.36, respectively.
“We are all focused and working hard, giving it our all so we can finish strong,” added Tillman, who is the daughter of former Houston Oilers great Spencer Tillman.
As this is the final season for the San Jacinto College volleyball program, the team wants to finish on a high note, for themselves and for Nelson. In her 16th season at the helm of the San Jacinto College volleyball program, Nelson has accumulated a 430-151 overall record. She was named the 2010 and 2012 American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Southwest Region Two-Year Coach of the Year and has earned 10 Region XIV Coach of the Year honors.
“We have 10 returners, which is always exciting to have, and a great group of freshmen who have come right in and not missed a beat,” said Nelson. “Even though we couldn’t get some of the matches in against the top teams in the country because of Harvey, we still feel like we will compete with some of the best teams in the country and in our region.”
“Coach Nelson means so much to us as players,” added Tillman. “We all look up to her not only as a coach, but as a person outside of the gym, too.”
With the focus now back on the court, San Jac is ready to face its competition in Region XIV. Upcoming conference home matches include Laredo Community College (Oct. 6), Coastal Bend College (Oct. 7) and Lee College (Oct. 10), with road matches at Blinn (Oct. 170 and Wharton County Junior College (Oct. 24). The Region XIV tournament will take place Nov. 3 – 5 in Carthage.
For more information about San Jacinto College volleyball visit sanjacsports.com.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.