Sunday, February 22, 2004

Purcell Marian graduate digs new role

Monroe goes from offensive to defensive star for Findlay volleyball team

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University of Findlay volleyball player Scott Monroe went from a high-octane offensive star to a defensive cornerstone in less than 60 seconds.

When head coach Wick Colchagoff approached him last year about a position switch, Monroe didn't need to mull over his decision. "I'd love to give it a shot," he said. He was pronounced the team's new libero, or defensive specialist.

The Purcell Marian High graduate, a three-year outside hitter known for his blistering kills, learned what it was like to be the forerunner in a defensive campaign that often is overlooked by offensive-minded fans. As libero, he plays back row for the middle hitter and focuses on ball control, passes and digs.

"Everyone notices the hitter who's crushing kills, and the blocker who's stuffing opponents. Even the setter has a certain amount of flash," Colchagoff said. "The libero goes unnoticed. You have to be very motivated to embrace the role."

Motivation isn't a problem for Monroe, ranked No. 1 by the American Volleyball Coaches Association among NCAA Division I and II schools with 104 digs, a 2.98-dig average.

"I've gotten better ball control as libero," the senior said. "I'm able to read the ball better and react."

Monroe watched friend and three-year libero Brent Mullins flourish at the position before taking it over himself. Mullins led the nation before graduating, averaging 2.96 digs. The biggest difference between the two, Colchagoff said, is Monroe's on-court leadership.

Monroe took his skills to Findlay High School, where this fall he was the junior varsity girls' volleyball coach. Between collegiate matches, he coaches a Junior Olympics Premier Volleyball Club team in Toledo for 17-year-old girls.

"Juggling everything is tough. Sometimes it makes for long days," said Monroe, who also carries a 3.72 GPA.

After three-hour college practices, he drives 45 minutes to coach the 17-year-olds for two hours a night, two nights a week. Road trips, like a Feb. 14-15 tournament in Columbus, are reserved for weekends.

Knowing the game from all sides has helped him in his own transition to libero. He plays as much as before, but instead of playing back row for only three rotations, he's there permanently for six.

The former Greater Catholic League Player of the Year hasn't forgotten his 614 career kills, including a season-high 315 as a sophomore. Though he's not putting on an offensive show, Monroe doesn't mind his role as the Oilers' unsung specialist.

"I don't hit at all. No swings, no serves," Monroe said. "I take it as a compliment."

Others honored

• Junior guard Ciara Henderson (Boone County) became Loyola-Chicago's all-time women's basketball leader in 3-point field goals after hitting six treys in Loyola's 88-85 (OT) victory over Butler. In just under three seasons, she has hit 172 3-pointers, breaking Claire Molloy's (1991-95) mark of 171.

• Junior forward Deon Short (Mt. Healthy) scored a career-high 35 points in the Wilmington College men's basketball team's 74-67 loss to Otterbein.

• After winning the Mid-South Conference tournament and regular season in 2003, league coaches have selected Georgetown College's softball team as the preseason favorite. Sophomore infielder Allison Cook (Lakota West) and freshman shortstop Jennifer Tarplee (Oak Hills) are among its players.

• Xavier University junior outfielder Jay Johnson (Dixie Heights) was selected to the Atlantic 10 preseason All-Conference baseball team. He was named one of the top 10 professional prospects in the conference and was rated its fastest runner. Junior infielder Brett Smith (Cincinnati Country Day) was voted by Baseball America as the best infield arm in the A-10. Baseball America also picked Drew Roberts (Sycamore) as the A-10 Preseason Rookie of the Year.

• The North Coast Athletic Conference Swimming and Diving Championships were held at the C.T. Branin Natatorium in Canton, Ohio this past weekend. Denison sophomore Andy Hoffman (Summit Country Day) won the 1,650 free (16:06.27) and finished third in the 400 IM (4:07.76) to earn all-conference honors in both events.

• Miami University senior forward Colleen Day was named CoSIDA First-Team Academic All-District, a first in the women's program's history. Day, who has a 3.84 GPA, leads Miami in scoring (14.3 points) and rebounds (7.9).

• Mount Vernon Nazarene University men's basketball player Andy Dunn (Lakota West) was named National Christian College Athletic Association Player of the Week for the fourth time this season. Dunn was also named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District IV First Team. Dunn leads NAIA Division II players with 126 three-pointers made and ranks fourth by shooting 92.3 percent from the free throw line (96-of-104).

• Thomas More junior forward Chad Wachs (Covington Catholic) was named to the men's basketball Team of the Week. In wins over Centre and Asbury, Wachs averaged 19 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 2.5 blocks. Wachs was also named to the First-Team of the 2004 Academic All-District IV College Division Men's Basketball Team.

• The Collegiate Baseball Newspaper has ranked the Thomas More baseball team at No. 14 in its annual preseason Top-30 poll. The Saints finished the season with a 33-10 record last year, advancing to the championship game of the NCAA Division III South Regional and finishing at No. 18 in the final American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Collegiate Baseball NCAA Division III Poll.

• With a 70-67 victory over Savannah College of Art & Design, the Thomas More women's basketball team finished the regular-season with a 20-5 record. The Saints tied the school record for wins in a single-season with 20, set by the 1996-97 team that went 20-7 and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the 1997 NCAA Tournament.

• Thomas More women's basketball senior guard Joanna Bess was named the January Female Student-Athlete of the Month by the Association of Division III Independents. Bess led the Saints to a 6-0 record in January, averaging 13.7 points per game. On Jan. 9, she became the 11th player in school history to score 1,000 career points.

• Northern Kentucky University senior Anna Moore (Bethel-Tate) won the Hoosier Hills Invitational indoor 5,000 meters at Indiana University in Bloomington Friday, setting a NKU school record in 19:28.53.

• The University of Cincinnati women's soccer team will host the Women's United Soccer Association's Washington Freedom and Xavier University in an exhibition game at Nippert Stadium on March 28 at 1 p.m. There will be a 20-minute autograph session after the exhibition.



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