tampabay.com

Junior drawing college interest

Outside/middle hitter Maureen Colligan has been a driving force for the Academy of the Holy Names this year.

By BRYAN BURNS
Published October 15, 2006


TAMPA - At 19-4, Academy of the Holy Names has been dominating opponents on the volleyball court this season.

And Maureen Colligan, a 5-foot-11 junior outside/middle hitter for the Jaguars, has been Academy's major weapon.

In 64 games, Colligan has 256 kills and has established herself as the top player on a young and talented Academy squad. She was named to the all-tournament team as Academy went 4-1 at the Lake Gibson High School Tournament earlier this month, and she produced an MVP-caliber performance in helping Academy win its annual invitational tournament for the first time in the tournament's seven-year existence.

"She's probably the best outside hitter we've had at Academy, at least in the six years I've been the coach here," Academy coach Doug Chinchar said. "We get her the ball and dare you to stop her.

"She's really come into her own in the last four or five months and become one of the best players in the county."

Chinchar said what makes Colligan such a tremendous player is her natural athletic ability.

"She moves antennae to antennae really well," he said. "She has very quick feet, and she can jump out of the gym. In volleyball, if you have those two you're doing pretty well."

In the two years Colligan has been starting for the Jaguars, she's made great strides in her technique.

"Her arm swing is a lot better than what it was," Chinchar said. "Her timing was off before. It's still not quite where it needs to be, but it's better now."

Colligan credits her coach for her improvement.

"Doug's a great coach," Colligan said. "He's always pushing you to do better. I've grown a lot under him, both mentally and physically. He's helped me become a well-rounded player."

Colligan's play has been drawing plenty of interest from colleges since the beginning of the season. The University of Hartford has already offered her a scholarship, and a number of others are keeping a steady watch on the junior's progress - confirmed by the number of scouts who have been watching her matches.

"Getting interest from schools gives me a boost when I play," Colligan said. "It helps me focus on playing well.

"It was really flattering to get the offer. ... I definitely want to play at the Division-I level. I'm open to anywhere, but I'd like to go up in the northeast."

Colligan and her Academy teammates face a stern test starting Monday in the Class 3A, District 11 tournament at Berkeley Prep. After an opening-round match against Lennard, Academy will most likely have to defeat Clearwater Central Catholic on Tuesday and ninth-ranked Berkeley Prep in Thursday's championship for the district crown.

However, Chinchar feels he's prepared his team with the tough schedule it plays. Three of Academy's four losses have come at the hands of state-rated teams, and Chinchar said he routinely looks to schedule the toughest competition each year.

"We have a great district," Chinchar said. "There are a lot of good teams there. I think we're one of them. Hopefully, we can get after some of these other teams."