By VERONICA RATES, Staff Reporter
The University of Michigan-Dearborn volleyball team will be without a few valuable assets next season.
After going winless in 32 games last season, four players decided not to return to the Wolverines in 2015.
Megan Ynclan, Jessica Spiegelberg, Emily Mayes, and Natasha Hampton, staples of UM-Dearborn volleyball for the past two years, have left the program.
Eric Stark, who is entering his first offseason as UM-Dearborn’s volleyball coach, declined to speak individually of his players and their decisions but is sad to see them leave.
“I am disappointed some student-athletes chose to leave the program as I saw everyone on the team continuing to grow and develop both on the court and in the community,” Stark said. “But ultimately they made adult decisions based on their individual situations which I stand by and wish them the best. They will always be a part of the University of Michigan-Dearborn volleyball family.”
Each with their own reasons for leaving the Wolverines, the four players will leave behind an impact on the team.
Ynclan, a junior who had just one year left of eligibility, decided to leave due to personal issues.
Ynclan had 287 career kills, with 198 of them coming in her final season. She had a career-high 11 kills in four of her games last season.
After UM-Dearborn compiled a 27-87 record during her career, the small things became huge reminders that made it all worth while for Ynclan.
“It’s funny because this was a really rough season, which can make you lose sight on all the positives you have experienced,” said Ynclan. “There are so many little things I am grateful for and I have created friendships that would last a lifetime. Yeah this past year sucked, but in the overall picture, there are more positives than negatives.”
After being redshirted her freshman year, Spiegelberg is leaving the program due to an ongoing, intense back injury. The junior middle blocker will finish her degrees in Communications and Urban & Regional Studies and hopes to graduate by December.
“I’ve managed to see very different aspects of the game being on the bench as a redshirt my freshman year, playing on the court, and sitting on the bench from an injury,” said Spiegelberg. “I have a completely different perspective and gratification for the sport, myself, the university, my team, and all of my mentors. Especially now that I know it is possible, I might not ever be able to step back on a court in uniform.”
Like Spiegelberg, Mayes also redshirted her freshman year. After totaling 72 kills this past season, the sophomore middle blocker decided to leave due to personal reasons.
“It was a great experience and I’m sad it ended the way it did,” said Mayes. “My teammates made the journey so worthwhile and I wouldn’t trade them or our experiences together for the world.”
Ynclan, Spiegelberg, and Mayes will be a huge absence as the offseason rolls on. The trio were UM-Dearborn’s only middle blockers on its roster from last season.
Hampton has put on a UM-Dearborn uniform for the final time as well due to personal issues. This season, the sophomore outside hitter was awarded WHAC All-Academic Team, one of four Wolverines to receive that honor. She was also awarded as one of NAIA’s Scholar Athletes.
With four athletes leaving and two seniors graduating, Stark looks to recruiting to rebuild the Wolverines.
“The recruiting process is ever evolving and we are taking it in stride and preparing for next season,” Stark comments. “My staff and I are working hard to identify and receive commitments from the best student-athletes that fit the academic rigors of UM-Dearborn and the hard work and passion that goes along with being a part of our volleyball program.”