The last two years for the Delaware Tech Women’s Volleyball team have been about as successful as possible. In 2016, the team won the region and had a strong showing at districts. In 2017, the team placed second in the region and had a third place finish at districts.
Continuity was key to the team’s success, and that continuity came in the form of student-athletes Rachel Thomson, of Dover, MaryBeth O’Hanlon, of Clayton, and Brittany Duvall and Erin Walsh, both of Lewes.
Thomson, an elementary education major, and O’Hanlon, an advertising design major, were familiar with each other from years of playing club volleyball in the Dover area. Both had heard of the program prior to enrolling at Delaware Tech, and both jumped at the chance to play collegiate volleyball.
“I definitely wanted to play,” O’Hanlon said. “It was a passion for me.”
“I was very nervous starting out,” Thomson said. “But I’ve definitely grown as a player and I feel I’ve improved.”
Head coach Kris McGlothlin said both players developed into great team leaders and made a big impact on the court.
“Rachel was that quiet player, she used her first year to develop and grow,” McGlothlin said. “This season she broke out of her shell and became a huge factor on the court. It was fun to hear her come up to me and say, “Coach, put me against that player I got her.” She gained so much confidence.
“MaryBeth has been a large factor from day one. She has developed as a team leader in the two years that she has been a part of our family. She came in and was asked to be an offensive threat from the beginning. She has a great mind for the sport and has been able to adapt and go with whatever we have asked her to do.”
Meanwhile, Cape Henlopen High School grads Duvall and Walsh started playing volleyball together in seventh grade, and continued through four years of high school. Duvall originally planned to attend college out of state, but once she decided to stay and enroll at Delaware Tech, she convinced Walsh to join her on the volleyball team. Duvall is a criminal justice major and Walsh is a nursing major.
“It was really fun,” Walsh said. “I was really glad we did it.
“I didn’t think the team would be as good as we were. I thought it would be more recreational or like a club team.”
McGlothlin said the competitive spirit was high in both Walsh and Duvall.
“Erin is a great young lady. She is a hard worker and has been willing to put in the work from day one. She has been so consistent on the court and in the classroom,” McGlothlin said. “Brittany has been our starting libero from the time that she stepped on the court. She is a consistent player and steps up at game time.”
All four athletes pointed to this year’s district tournament game against the Community College of Rhode Island as a highlight of the past two years. Delaware Tech lost, but pushed the top team in the district to four sets.
“I was really excited to play Rhode Island,” O’Hanlon said. “They were an amazing team last year. This year we were fighting for each other and with each other. Our goal was to push each other to do our best.”
Besides the athletic competition, being on a team added another layer of accountability and time management for each athlete to maintain good grades so they could continue playing. Delaware Tech plays home games and practices at either Caesar Rodney High School or St. Thomas Moore Academy, so for Duvall and Walsh that meant traveling to the Dover/Camden area for the team while taking classes at Delaware Tech’s Georgetown campus.
“I was surprised with the skills of everyone on the team,” O’Hanlon said. “And the teams we played this year were a lot better than last year. Overall it was a good two years.”
O’Hanlon has a firm goal of continuing her volleyball career at a Division II college, while majoring in architecture. Thomson plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree at Delaware State University, and is considering trying out for the team.
Walsh is focusing on completing the nursing program, which includes a bachelor of nursing at Delaware Tech as well, and would love to work at Nemours/AI duPont Children’s Hospital in Wilmington. Meanwhile, Duvall is hoping to be able to transfer to another college and finish out her collegiate eligibility with two more years of volleyball.
“I definitely want to continue playing volleyball,” Duvall said. “I don’t feel I’m done yet.”
For more information on Delaware Tech athletics, individuals can visit dtcc.edu/campus-life/athletics.
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