What Melinda DiGiovanna started at the age of 10 would become what set her apart from most other athletes who have and will pass through the Women’s Volleyball Program.
DiGiovanna, a fourth-year outside hitter and one of the team’s three captains, marked her 1,000 kill Sept. 23, during a set of matches against SUNY Cortland and SUNY Plattsburgh, while at a tournament hosted by SUNY Oneonta that weekend. DiGiovanna, a 2010 First-Team All-SUNYAC East Division member and SUNYAC All-Tournament Team player, is only the seventh player in program history to reach this milestone.
Women’s Volleyball Head Coach Matt Giufre scouted DiGiovanna while she was a senior at West Hempstead High School, but only realized after her first year on the team that she had the potential to make a name for herself in the record books.
“I thought that she was a great athlete and if she had a good work ethic, then she could be a pretty good college player,” said Giufre. “Until someone gets here, you don’t really know how committed they’re going to be, but really from day one Melinda has been an extremely hard worker and takes a lot of pride in her game. After her freshman year was kind of when I thought she could break some records and she could really have a career that gets highlighted.”
DiGiovanna was unaware that she hit her 1,000 kill during the match. She said she was informed later on that night by Giufre.
“I actually had no idea,” said DiGiovanna. “My coach announced it at our team dinner after the first day of the tournament. I knew the numbers were close, but I didn’t know I’d hit 1000 that weekend. I went out playing the same I would every game, fighting for every point.”
Giufre described DiGiovanna as an “extremely, extremely competitive” player, who is always looking to add to her game.
“She’s always looking for another volleyball trait to build on, so that a team can never get the best of her,” said Giufre. “You think she’s a pretty complete offensive player and then there’s always one more thing she wants to do to have an option to score a point for us. Probably since she’s been here she’s worked the hardest on her defense. She came in here as a good hitter and kind of an average defensive player, and she’s become and outstanding defensive player because she’s taken a lot of pride in having something else that she can be known for.”
DiGiovanna, who started playing over 10 years ago, attributed her success to her extreme love for the game.
“I think I got this far from simply loving the sport,” said DiGiovanna. “As cheesy as it sounds, there’s nothing else I’d rather be doing. In my time here I’d take advantage of coming early to practices to work on hitting or defense one on one with my coach. It made a huge impact on my play and definitely paid off in the long run.”
DiGiovanna and the rest of the Women’s Volleyball team are, according to DiGiovanna, taking the season one day and one match at a time, though they are making sure they work hard during practices to host the SUNYAC tournament that will begin in November.
“Every game is important at this point,” said DiGiovanna. “Our team goal is to host SUNYACs, so in order to do that we need to practice hard every day and take each game as another chance to practice against different, challenging players.”