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Fall 2017 Sports Highlights

Spring 2017 | Winter 2016-17 | Fall 2016

Ten RCC Fall Student-Athletes Win Awards

Led by volleyball star Shannon Thomas, 10 Rockland Community College student-athletes earned awards for their performance during the fall sports season. Four volleyball players and six members of the men’s soccer team were honored by the Mid-Hudson Conference and Region XV.

Thomas received the conference’s volleyball Most Valuable Player award for the second straight season as she led RCC to its first MHC title in 13 years. She was also named All-Region first team. The North Rockland HS alum ended the season with 220 kills, 66 blocks and 53 service aces. She ranked among the national leaders in several statistics, including hitting percentage and points per set.

In the Hawks’ narrow five-set loss in the Region XV semifinals, Thomas had 15 kills and six blocks, and was named to the All-Tournament team.

Another second-year player, Sara Hayward, earned first-team All-Conference and honorable mention All-Region honors. Hayward, the Hawks’ setter and a graduate of Suffern HS, recorded 461 assists and added 50 service aces. Freshman Kayla Oge was named second-team All-Conference and All-Region. Oge, a New City resident who attended Saddle River Day School in New Jersey, ranked among the nation’s leaders in blocks with 110 while adding 123 kills.

Alena Augustine, a Nanuet HS graduate, was named to the Region XV All-Sportsmanship team. RCC ended the volleyball season with a 20-4 record.

Soccer players honored

Three members of the RCC men’s soccer squad won first-team recognition from the Mid-Hudson Conference. Bernard Alexander, the Hawks’ leading scorer and a first-year midfielder, was also named All-Region second team. Alexander, who attended high school in Brooklyn, had five goals and three assists.

Niko Barbetto and Damian Rainford were the other first-team All-Conference selections. Barbetto, a Clarkstown North HS alum and the team captain, primarily played defense but also filled in as goalie for the Hawks. Rainford, a first-year player and a Suffern HS grad, notched a goal and an assist while playing defense and also earned All-Region honorable mention.

Clarkstown South HS alum Brendan Lynch, another first-year defender, garnered second-team All-Conference and honorable mention All-Region honors. Troy Callahan, a graduate of Pearl River HS and a second-year midfielder, was also named to the All-Conference second team. Lena Martinez, the only female player on the men’s soccer team and a graduate of Newburgh Free Academy, earned Region All-Sportsmanship team honors.

November 1, 2017

RCC Wins Volleyball Conference Title, Readies for Regions

The Rockland Community College volleyball team won the Mid-Hudson Conference Tournament by defeating Orange, 3 games to 1, in Tuesday night’s final at the RCC Fieldhouse. This is the first conference championship for the Hawks in 13 years.

Now 19-3 on the season, Rockland heads into the Region XV tournament on a nine-match winning streak. RCC students and the general public are invited to come support the third-seeded Hawks on Thursday at 6:00 as they host #6 seed Suffolk at the Fieldhouse in the quarterfinal round. Admission is free.

Region XV quarterfinal – Rockland vs. Suffolk
Thursday, October 26, 2017
6:00 pm
RCC Fieldhouse

The winner of Thursday’s match moves on to the Region final four, which will take place Saturday at SUNY Orange.

RCC won the Mid-Hudson regular-season title on a tiebreaker, but its tournament championship was more convincing. The Hawks earned a three-game sweep in the semifinals Tuesday, rolling past Westchester 25-20, 25-16, 25-20 to reach the finals. Shannon Thomas led the way with 16 kills while Nicole Polanco recorded three aces.

In the final, Rockland defeated third seed Orange (which upset #2 Ulster in the other semifinal) 25-21, 15-25, 25-21, 25-17. Thomas added 13 more kills, plus 24 digs and four blocks in a strong all-around performance. Polanco contributed 10 kills and 20 digs, while Cha-Neice Gordon had a breakout performance with nine kills.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” said coach Erik Ellingsen. “These amazing young ladies take on any and all obstacles as a team, which is why we’ve had such a successful season.”

The Hawks won’t have much time to savor their conference championship, with the challenging Region XV tournament straight ahead. RCC will be seeking its first-ever Region title in volleyball. The winner of that tournament also earns a trip to the NJCAA Division III national championship, November 10-11 in Minnesota.

October 25, 2017

First-Place RCC Volleyball Team Gearing Up for Postseason

With 13 wins in 16 matches, the Rockland Community College volleyball team is already enjoying one of its finest seasons ever. Now the Hawks hope to cap off their season by making some history.

With a win over Ulster on October 10, RCC moved into a tie for first place in the Mid-Hudson Conference. The Hawks also hold the tie-breaker, meaning if the two teams finish tied for first, Rockland will host the conference championships, a one-day event on Tuesday, October 24.

A conference title would be a big deal for RCC, which has only won the MHC volleyball crown three times in school history, the last coming in 2004. It would also serve as a superb prelude to the Region XV tournament later the same week, in which the Hawks will be seeking their first-ever Region championship.

Much was expected of the Rockland team this season, with conference MVP Shannon Thomas and others returning, along with some key new recruits. But RCC suffered a big loss after just two matches, with a season-ending injury to talented newcomer Anjali Sebastian (Clarkstown North HS). And with coach Erik Ellingsen’s wife giving birth early in the season, he has been unable to attend a number of practices and matches.

Instead of falling apart, the Hawks pulled together. Ellingsen credits his three returning starters—North Rockland HS alums Thomas and Nicole Polanco, and Suffern HS grad Sara Hayward—saying they have served as de facto coaches for the team in his absence. He says Polanco has especially proven herself as a leader for the squad. RCC will honor those three players at a Senior Night celebration at the team’s final regular-season home game, Thursday, October 19 at 7 pm.

Thomas has followed up her impressive first season by playing even better this year. She ranks among the national leaders in NJCAA Division III in multiple categories, including fourth in hitting percentage and tenth in points per set. “She’s a force on the court,” says Ellingsen.

Another crucial factor has been the addition of first-year player Kayla Oge. Ranking fourth in the nation in blocks per set, Oge has given RCC a second dominating presence at the net. With the New City resident, a graduate of Saddle River Day School in New Jersey, on the court, Ellingsen says, “Defensively we got a lot better and we’re more athletic as well.”

Other first-year players contributing to RCC’s success are North Rockland HS grad Emily Schmidt and Nyack HS alumna Cha-Neice Gordon. The Hawks are likely to earn a first-round home match in the Region XV tournament, which would take place on Thursday, October 26. A victory would send them to the Region final four at SUNY Orange two days later.

While Rockland lost to defending champion Queensborough and perennial power Nassau earlier this season, Ellingsen believes in his team’s chances. “If they stay focused every point of every set, we could win the Region,” he says. “The tournament’s going to be a lot of fun.”

October 16, 2017