During the fall season, CisternYard Sports will feature a weekly story on a different student athlete at the College of Charleston that our sports staff thinks you should know. This week, we highlight Marissa Morello from the women’s volleyball team.
Four years ago Wisconsin native Melissa Morello took a leap of faith and landed in Charleston. Before she arrived, she had hardly spent time in the South.
Morello did not let geography stand in the way of her decision to attend College of Charleston. “Once I met coach and the team it was a no brainier for me,” she said.
During Morello’s freshmen year, former freshmen of the year player Sloane White along with seniors Emily Shelton and Kelly Kolich led the team. The Cougars had a lot of hype going into the season as they looked to win another conference title.
The Cougars’ stellar roster allowed Morello to get comfortable and find her role on the team.
The Cougars’ string of victories in 2012 did not come as a surprise. The team finished with a 27-8 overall record and chance to win the SoCon Conference tournament – which they also won, beating Furman.
The victory was a big moment for Morello and her teammates. “Winning the SoCon tournament my freshmen year…is in the top three moments in my life.” Morello said. “I really felt at that point I was part of the program”.
By the end of the end of her freshman year, she had not only learned the system, but was starting to master it.
Morello had an outstanding freshmen year, highlighted by her addition to the SoCon All- Freshmen team, in to finishing third on the team with 255 kills, 237 digs and eight double doubles.
2013, Morello’s second year on campus, marked a new era for the Cougars as they moved from the Southern Conference to the Colonial Athletic Association. With this new challenge ahead of them, the team was ready to prove once again that they were a forced to be reckoned with.
Charleston had another great year in 2013 as they streaked to another conference title. Morello was a major contributor to the title and she was named to the CAA All-Tournament team after playing 13 kills in the tournament. In addition, Morello was named to the All CAA-Third team. She set a career high of 17 kills in a match vs. Northwestern and was evolving into a great player that the team could rely on.
In the 2014 season, Morello became a junior captain and she shined in the spotlight. She earned her title despite the fact that the roster featured six seniors, displaying the confidence that the coaching staff and her teammates had in her ability.
Morello credits her growth to her coaching staff. “[I am] blessed to have met a coaching staff that really cares about you as a player and as a person,” Morello said.
Her praise was not limited to her coaches, as she also spoke of her teammates.
“Not only are they hard working and dedicated but they are just awesome people on top of that. They are my best friends they are going to have your back on and off the court… They are all great players and they are here for a reason but its nice for them to have somebody to look up to say this is what we are about and we are here to win”.
Morello’s ability to not only play a high level but be a leader on and off the court has been instrumental to the team’s success.
As a junior Morello lead the Cougars to a regular season conference title by crushing opponents. She totaled 430 kills, 420 digs on the season earning a spot on the All-CAA Third Team. Morello also topped her previous career high for kills in a game with 23.
Unfortunately for Morello and the Cougars their regular season success did not carry over into the conference tournament. The Cougars made it to the championship game but came up short against Hofstra 3-2.
Now as a senior and second year captain, Morello is trying to get back to another conference championship game. As the team faces different challenges this season, on a team filled with mostly underclassmen, the team will rely on Morello more than ever.
Morello’s career has been impressive, and she hopes to lead the team one last title run before having to make her curtain call. Regardless of how this year plays out, her play will be remembered, but more than that her heart, passion, and leadership will live on for years to come.