Knight trying to lead Pride volleyball into the CAAs

 Picture courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications

When Monica Knight began her Hofstra volleyball career in 2006 the South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Native was apart of a senior-laden team that was the first in program history to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Flash forward three years later and Knight is the senior leader on a young team hoping to advance to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament in order to give her another shot at experiencing an NCAA playoff atmosphere.

Knight has transformed from a role player on previous teams to the anchor of this year’s Pride squad that after a key road five-set win at William & Mary Saturday, is very much alive to qualify for the four-team CAA tournament next month.  The senior outside hitter had a career best 29 kills in a five-set Friday night loss Virginia Commonwealth and followed that up with a personal-best 24 digs in the triumph at William & Mary. After some initial tough adjustments to her new role as a leader, Knight is now relishing it.

“It’s been really hard but it is has also been a great learning experience,” said Knight, who leads Hofstra in kills with 362. “I have got a lot in me that I didn’t know I had.”

“She has really transformed a lot in the last year,” said Hofstra volleyball head coach Kristina Hernandez. “She is one of those leaders you want to follow naturally.”

Hofstra’s 2009 season got off to a slow start with six straight losses but the Pride have now won four of six and are tied with Northeastern for fifth place in the CAA at 4-5, with all five of its remaining matches at home. With this being the home stretch of Knight’s volleyball career she has been trying to embrace every aspect of her senior season, including giving 110% at every practice despite being hampered with a stress fracture and tendonitis in her knee.

“She knows this is the end of the road,” said Coach Hernandez of why Knight has been giving so much extra effort both in practice and in the film room this season. “She is someone I expect to be consistent and she does that every week.”

The first of Hofstra’s five critical remaining home CAA matches at the Physical Fitness Center begins this Saturday against Northeastern starting at 1 p.m. The Pride and Huskies are currently two games behind Georgia State for the fourth and final CAA playoff spot.

 “We have to come out really excited with a sense of urgency,” said Knight of the how important each of the Pride’s final five matches are. “We can’t hold anything back.”

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