By RODNEY PAGE
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 23, 2001
The Eckerd College volleyball team faced a big challenge this weekend, and it had nothing to do with competition on the court.
The Tritons are playing in the Bentley College Tournament in Boston. It normally would be a trip the squad looked forward to.
But in light of the terrorist attacks Sept. 11 and the fact two of the planes originated from Boston's Logan Airport, the Tritons weren't sure if they would be able to make the flight -- or if the players would want to fly.
Eckerd coach Hollie Miller held a meeting Monday to determine whether the team wanted to make the trip. The vote was in favor of playing in the tournament, but not all the players went.
Starters Kelly Jackson, Emily King and Samantha Hawk opted not to go. They will rejoin the Tritons for Wednesday's match at Webber College.
"We took a vote and it was 14-4 that we should still go without them," Miller said.
"I just think you have to get back to living life," she said. "This is a tournament we've been planning on going to for a year."
The Tritons had three matches postponed the week of the attacks, including a Sunshine State Conference meeting with Rollins College. That match likely is to be rescheduled, but matches against Flagler and North Florida may not.
Eckerd got back to action Tuesday by beating conference opponent Florida Tech, then defeating Clearwater Christian College before leaving Friday for Boston.
The Tritons owned an 8-2 record prior to the trip -- one of their best starts since Miller took over four years ago.
Unfortunately for them, this appears to be a strong season for the SSC. Rollins was 10-0 through Thursday. Lynn was 4-0, and Barry and Tampa were 7-1.
While this could be one of the best Eckerd teams in a long while, it may have a tough time cracking the top of the league.
"I think the conference is the toughest it's ever been," Miller said.
"When I first got here, Eckerd and Rollins and Lynn were on the bottom, but now those teams are good. You just never know."
Eckerd has a good mix of juniors and seniors.
Junior outside hitter Delaney Menell has been a surprise. She is third in the SSC in kills with 119 in 29 games. Menell made the all-tournament team in the USC-Spartanburg tourney in August and has been the Tritons' most consistent player.
Miller also likes the way senior captains Kelly Street and Christy Buncik have played.
Eckerd likely is to suffer with three starters out of the Bentley College Tournament. But the good news is there are no more plane trips scheduled for this season.
SOCCER: Two Eckerd women's players are off to a good start after four games.
Stephanie Schwobe has four goals in as many games and ranks second in the Sunshine State Conference. Mindy Dymon of Florida Southern leads the league with five goals in nine games.
The Tritons' Monica Carrasco has four assists, which is second in the SSC.
SPC: The St. Petersburg College volleyball team was hampered last week by cancellations and was 2-2 through Thursday.
On Sept. 11, the day of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, SPC canceled its Suncoast Conference match against Pasco-Hernando Community College. The event will be made up later in the season.
CLEARWATER CHRISTIAN: This is a rebuilding year, says volleyball coach Vickie Grooms-Denny, but Clearwater Christian is 9-4 after playing Eckerd College on Thursday.
The Cougars had two matches canceled last weekend due to tropical storm Gabrielle.
The highlight for them has been a 5-0 record in the NCCAA II Regional Kickoff, Sept. 7-8 in Toccoa Falls, Ga.