Volleyball team misses postseason cut, Coach Rooke resigns


The 2011 season for Mercer volleyball was rough. Having a tough non-conference schedule started the Bears off on the wrong foot for another rough Atlantic Sun year. They went 12-19 on the year, 4-9 in Atlantic Sun play. They were eliminated before the season ended. As a result, Coach Noelle Rooke resigned, citing “there is also a time when you realize a change may be best for all parties.” Her record was 98-139 at Mercer after eight years.
August began with four straight losses, seeing the Bears not gather even a set point until the next month. The Winthrop Classic was a rough outing, and despite Coach Rooke saying it did not matter where the Bears were voted in the preseason, they just had to “peak at the right time.”
It was not until the second match of the Bear Brawl that Mercer won a set. It was not until the final match of that outing that the Bears were able to win a match. The 3-0 win over Norfolk State provided a lull in a stretch of losses. The Bears’ 8-10 non-conference record was a result of tough opponents and a lack of experience.
Entering the Atlantic Sun season did not change the outcome for Mercer, as they dropped nine of their 13 games in route to a cellar position in the conference standings, including a 3-1 season-ending loss to in-state rival Kennesaw State. On a positive note, the Bears received many contributions and solid play from individuals on the team.
Libero Charlotte Harris took her skills to another level this season with her record-breaking performances that boosted the play of the entire team. However, the Bears were unable to get results often down the stretch and in the clutch. Winning six of their 10 games at the end of the season was too late of a peak, and it cost the Bears in the end. Amiee Frutchey and Anna Coursey’s play also resounded throughout the season as great pillars to lean on, but it was not enough. “[They] have high expectations for this season,” Coach Rooke said in a season-beginning interview. Unfortunately, those were not achieved.
Four separate times, the Bears dropped a five-game match despite having significant momentum. Jennifer Katona routinely kept the Bears in matches with her high numbers of kills, being the first player since 2006 to reach 200 kills in her first season. It was this type of play that kept the Bears around long past their expectations. Their eighth place finish was less than pleasing. It was even worse to lose it to Kennesaw State as the Owls booked their ticket to the postseason.
Speaking on not only the game, but the entire season, Coach Rooke was pleased with the seniors. “I felt it was a good way for our three seniors to go out as they all had strong performances,” she said. Frutchey finished the season with the team lead in double-doubles. The Bears now look to recruiting and a coaching search for the next leader for Bears volleyball.