June 29, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Witsaman is latest Division I volleyballer

Brian Dulik 

The Gazette 

MEDINA — Emily Witsaman has been closely watched by college coaches since her freshman season on Medina’s volleyball team. 

Only one NCAA Division I university, however, was going to win the recruitment battle for the 6-foot-2 junior. 

That lucky school is the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, which has locked up Witsaman’s talents beginning in the fall of 2010. 

“This is what I’ve been working for the last couple of years, so to be able to say I’m playing Division I volleyball is very exciting,’’ said Witsaman, a two-time All-Northeast Ohio Conference River Division honoree. 

“I felt a little pressure throughout last season because schools wanted me to make a commitment by May. Now that I’ve done that, I can relax and have a fun senior year.’’ 

Witsaman accepted a full athletic scholarship from UMBC, which plays in the America East Conference and went 18-13 last season. She chose the Baltimore-based college over a plethora of other D-I options, including Central Michigan and Seton Hall. 

Though she cannot sign a national letter of intent until November, the talented middle hitter verbally agreed to play for the Retrievers five days ago during an official visit with UMBC coach Ian Blanchard and assistant Brianne Koche. 

“Their coaches came to see me at the (Junior Olympic) nationals in Dallas and have kept talking to me since,’’ Witsaman said. “They said they liked my athleticism, my height and my versatility.’’ 

She added with a chuckle, “They also said I was really fun to watch, which was nice.’’ 

Witsaman’s power game on both sides of the net has drawn countless oohs and aahs for the Bees, who have gone 47-26 during her three-year career. She amassed 196 kills and 92 blocks last season, racking up a career-high tying 17 kills against Cleveland Heights Beaumont and in a pair of matches against Valley Forge. 

As the top returning senior on Medina’s team, Witsaman figures to shatter all of her personal records this upcoming campaign. 

“I’m looking forward to being a leader and stepping in for Dee Glass and all the other (soon-to-be) graduating seniors next year,’’ she said. “They set a great example to follow.’’ 

Witsaman said she plans on majoring in science in college, which is one of the strongest academic programs at UMBC. The school also recently made major improvements to its arena — the Retrievers Activities Center — and is on the verge of becoming a mid-major player in all NCAA D-I sports. 

“It’s going to be an adventure,’’ said Witsaman, who will spend this offseason playing for the Cleveland Volleyball Company. “I love playing the game and I’m glad I can keep doing it for four more years.’’ 


Dulik may be reached at brisports@hotmail.com