Senior volleyball Captain Melissa Haskell had a groundbreaking start  to her final season at the Endicott Invitational this weekend. She left the tournament with a total of 30 kills, 14 aces and 32 digs, while helping her team establish their undefeated record. 

Coach Karen Corey attributes Haskell’s success this weekend to her savvy style of play. 

“She has a really great vision of the court—her style of play challenges her teammates to look for the other types of shots on the court,” she said.

Haskell spoke to the strength of the team’s veteran members, saying that she always feels confident that she will get good sets and that whomever the ball is coming to has a great chance of getting it back.

Corey also cites Haskell’s personality as a major factor in her triumphs on the court. 

“Melissa doesn’t get rattled. She has great composure—she provides a lot of stability for the girls on the team,” Corey said. 

Haskell has been a starter on the volleyball team since her first year at the College. According to Corey, even as a first year she had a very strong internal drive; she was always challenging herself to improve her skills.

Haskell’s junior year was the turning point in her volleyball career. Corey recalls Haskell coming into her junior year much stronger and “attacking the ball with a lot more speed.”

Haskell agreed that she became considerably more competitive on the court in her junior year. The preceding summer, she had participated in a number of doubles games against a variety of opponents with different skill sets. As a result, she said, predicting play was impossible. 

“I never wanted to underestimate them because I didn’t know what I was getting—it made me fight a lot more for every point, whether I was up or down,” she added. 

Corey describes Haskell’s constant engagement  during the team’s practices.

“Every time she touches the ball she’s looking for quality contact,” said Corey. 

Haskell echoes this sentiment, explaining that focusing on first contact, serving and receiving, is her main goal during practices and games.

“She leads by example. That is really her forté,” said Corey.

A Physics major, Haskell is extremely analytical and says this quirk occasionally causes her to fixate on rotations and people’s positions, making it harder to go with the flow. However, she says she tries not to worry about the little things and instead focus on the big picture.

Despite their early  successes, Haskell agrees that she and the rest of the team will need to continue to improve their game in order to accomplish the ambitious goals they have set for the season.

“Coach Corey would never let us get complacent. This is just the beginning,” she said. 

“Haskell will absolutely continue with the success she’s had,” said Corey. “I could even see her stepping it up a little more.” 

Corey noted how much this season means to the senior, and said she believes Haskell is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the Polar Bears walk away with wins.

The finality of this season has yet to set in for Haskell.

 “I’ll be playing doubles for as long as I want. I may not have the same vertical when I’m 40, but I know I’ll always be playing,” she said.

The sports editor chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.