As the NCAA early signing period continues this fall, two more local products inked National Letters of Intent this week to continue their aspirations of competing at the college level.
Hoggard’s Melanie Post is headed to the Big Apple for the 2016-17 academic year and will play tennis at Wagner College. Post has been working hard over the last few seasons to put herself in position to earn a Division I scholarship. She played in USTA tournaments all over the south this past summer and fall and is currently ranked No. 15 in the USTA North Carolina, Girls 18 and Under Division.
“All the credit goes to Melanie for making a full commitment to hard work on the court and willingness to do the things needed to get her game to the next level,” said PJ Langone, Melanie’s instructor. “Total cooperativeness and desire to push herself to excel describes Melanie as a student.”
Her training routine includes 12 hours per week of focused on-court training and an average of two USTA tournaments per month. These are weekend tournaments (2-4 days each) with travel throughout the southern United States, from North Carolina to Alabama.
“We’ve spent quite a bit of time working on the technical and stroke production side of her game in the early going,” Langone added. “This is the repetition side of training, hitting the same ball in practice again and again and Melanie’s patience to develop her strokes and execution was exemplary. From there we were able to dig in to the tactical and strategic areas of the sport.
“We also spent countless hours off court discussing the competitive side of tennis. Melanie has made huge strides as a competitor and she now sees her competition a bit differently and she has been able develop stronger skills to call on when facing adversity during competition.”
As a result of her daily commitment to these things, Melanie climbed in the North Carolina rankings from No. 48 in April to No. 17 by August of this year. It was this winning streak and quick rise through the rankings that got the attention of NCAA Division I tennis coaches. Coupled with her skill and results as a player, Melanie has the personality, temperament and grades to be a valuable member of a Division I tennis program. Melanie is a great student in the classroom as well.
Post chose to forego high school tennis in her senior year so she could focus more on her training and tournament travel. And the reason this was an important decision for her is that tennis is different than some other sports in that tennis players are not recruited to college from their high school teams, as college tennis coaches look exclusively at USTA and ITF tournament results when assessing a player, according to Langone.
Wagner is located in the New York City borough of Staten Island and is a full-time member of the Northeast Conference (NEC). The 2014-15 Seahawks put together one of the best seasons in school history as the squad notched eight wins en route to posting the program’s first winning season.
Over the last decade or so, Cape Fear Volleyball has become the premiere club league and travel team for young volleyball players as a way to pursue their passion on a greater scale. While the high school season allows only so much time for individuals to work on the necessary skills to make the next step, the local organization has become the single most important group for improving the level of play across the region.
On Monday, Brooke Monssen of Richlands High School in Onslow County became the only committed senior in this part of the state to announce intentions of playing Division I volleyball.
“Brooke would tell you that she was behind when she joined our club,” said Larry Salefsky, Cape Fear Volleyball’s 18 National Extreme Head Coach. “She came from a small school that is not known for anything volleyball and stepping into the highest level of competition that our country offers. She played on our 18 National Team, which is a team that plays at the open level. The open level means you are playing the highest level offered and competing against teams that have 5-10 Division I athletes on every roster.”
While Monssen has developed into a Division I talent over the last year, the 2015 Onslow County Player of the Year had a few hurdles to climb to make the 18 National Team for Cape Fear Volleyball after breaking her hand during a tryout for another club organization. After getting a late workout for Salefsky’s squad, she put in the time and effort to overcome her adverse situation and became one of the top players competing in the area.
“The speed of the game was much faster than she was used to – the size of the players, their arm speed, their ball control, and knowledge of the game,” Salefsky added. “I think it was all a shock at first, but she worked hard to make the jump from being the biggest and best at her school, to having to work for every point now.”
Monssen has been so dedicated to her craft she takes the one hour drive from Richlands two to three times each week for practice at Cape Fear Volleyball’s facility near the Wilmington International Airport.
“There’s no question this has been a dream of mine since first getting into club my sophomore year,” Monssen said. “I’m very appreciative of the opportunity and it’s been fun through the recruiting process, but there’s no question that my club team at Cape Fear has made me into the player I’ve become over the last few seasons. Larry [Salefsky] has done a really good job in preparing me for college and I think he’s been really honest about what to expect.”
Last year, Cape Fear Volleyball 18 National Extreme played in four major events and by the final event in April in Orlando, Florida, Monseen transformed into a dominant hitter for the club. This is where she drew the attention of several Division I schools, including Charleston Southern.
“It really came to me while I was reading my Bible that Charleston was going to be the place for me,” said Monssen. “I started getting noticed by a number of coaches and that’s when I realized I had the ability to play in college. But, after thinking and praying on it for awhile, Charleston Southern just seemed like it was the perfect fit.”
Monssen recently finished her high school career with 722 kills, 92 digs and 505 blocks. She is going to Charleston Southern next year on a full athletic scholarship to be an outside hitter after getting looks from College of Charleston and The Citadel.
This season, she recorded 339 kills, 55 aces and 52 blocks, leading the Wildcats to a 12-9 overall record and 8-4 mark in the Coastal 3A Conference.
“She is back on our 18 national open level team this year, with the goal of being a starter next year as a freshman,” Salefsky said. “As her head coach for two years now, I asked her to make a list of goals, personal and team based, to help her get to that level. She had the list already made and we are working as a club to help her get there.”
Monssen becomes the sixth player in the last two years to commit to a college program from Cape Fear Volleyball, with one more senior expected to make an announcement leading into next fall and a handful of others moving through their high school years getting ready to go through the recruiting process.
Charleston Southern competes in the Big South Conference along with North Carolina based UNC-Asheville, Campbell, High Point, Gardner-Webb and Coastal Carolina of nearby Conway, South Carolina.