Sophomore Shannon Deleur Leading the Way on a Resurgent BW Volleyball Team
By: Krista Cantwell ‘14
BEREA, OHIO -- Baldwin Wallace University sophomore and former Olmsted High School standout volleyball student-athlete Shannon Deleur is hoping to help the Yellow Jackets relive a bit of their past. Right now, she is part of a resurgent future.
The BW women’s volleyball team has had great success during the past four decades, including during the 1990s and 2000s when it competed yearly for an Ohio Athletic Conference title and in the NCAA Division III National Tournament, and had 10 consecutive winning seasons. But in 2008, BW compiled a not-so-good, 13-21 record and then slipped further to a 5-24 mark a year later.
Enter Deleur and number of other current Yellow Jacket freshmen, sophomores and juniors. That group has dedicated itself to resurrecting a tradition of excellence that started with the legebdary Marcia French ‘63 and continued by current veteran Head Coach Vicki Brault.
“The key to a good program is how you get back up after being knocked down,” said Brault. “We had two seasons that I would like to forget. Having young, hard-working ladies like Shannon in the program has helped us to turn things around.”
With Deleur playing in her freshman season a year ago, the BW program had an impressive 20-13 overall record and advanced to the Ohio Athletic Conference semifinals. This season, Deleur and her Yellow Jacket teammates have fashioned a 17-12 overall record prior to hosting OAC-rival Ohio Northern University in an OAC Tournament quarterfinal match in Berea on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 7:00 p.m.
The resurgence of the women’s volleyball team is due both to the coaches and the student-athletes.
Brault, who is currently coaching her 21st season as a collegiate head coach, including her 17th at BW, has won 396 career matches and has a 396-281 career mark with 326 wins coming at BW. She also is a two-time OAC Coach of the Year.
Deleur Leads The Team With
39 Service Aces This Season
In addition to Deleur, a sophomore, the BW lineup of 10 student-athletes includes one freshman, three sophomores, four juniors and two seniors.
Coach Brault sees an improvement in the team the past two seasons.
“The team has improved from being at the bottom of the conference to the middle and now competing not only with the top teams in the OAC but also top teams in the region,” said Brault. “This is a team that loves to be challenged and has risen to the occasion throughout the past two seasons.”
Each of the players has impacted the team, including Deleur. The rightside player and defense specialist has been a key contributor during her first two seasons.
Last season, Shannon led the team with 39 service aces and played in all 33 matches and 118 games. She also finished third on the team with 38 blocks, including 13 solo, and was fourth on the team with 185 kills and 322 digs.
This season has gone even better as Deleur continues to develop into one of the OAC’s most versatile players. She has appeared in all 29 matches, played 108 games, has 125 kills (third) and a .184 hitting percentage and has contributed 66 set assists (fourth), 26 aces (fourth), 361 digs (second) and 16 blocks (sixth) on a team that is much more talented than a year ago.
“Shannon has been a solid player for us in her two seasons,” said Brault. “She brings good ball control and has a strong serve, and she is able to do these things consistently on a day-to-day basis.
“Shannon’s setting skills have been the largest improvement from last year,” continued Brault. “She is able to put up a hittable ball for the hitters, which is a large part of her position as a rightside attacker. Her improved setting skill has helped the team become better. Shannon also has improved her ability to mix up her shots and become more of an offensive threat. Shannon not only relies on her skill to play volleyball, she also has an outstanding work-ethic.”
Brault also feels that Deleur’s efforts has been a positive influence on her teammates and the entire program.
“Shannon is a team player and she will do whatever is necessary for the team to be successful,” finalized Brault. “She is a good teammate and brings a positive energy to the court. She comes to practice every day with a positive attitude and ready to work, physically and mentally.”
Deleur Is One of Three Sophomores
On Young Yellow Jacket Squad
Fellow sophomore Taylor Burns (Tiffin/ Fostoria St. Wendelin) also feels Deleur’s efforts both on and off the court have affected her and their teammates.
“Shannon is a hard worker that will not give up,” said Burns, who plays outside hitter and defensive specialist. “She always gives her best in the situation that she is in at the time. She is a smart player and willing to help other players. Shannon is always putting the team first and giving her best no matter the situation
Burns also says that Deleur uses some humor to help her teammates through tough times on and off the court.
“Shanon tries to make others get out of a slump by being funny both on and off the court,” said Burns, who leads the team in service aces and is second in digs. “She also is loyal, honest, respectful, happy, determined and a hard worker.”
Deleur has been playing volleyball since she was in eighth grade. After going to camp at The Ohio State University when she was in seventh grade and watching an OSU women’s volleyball match, she wanted to begin playing volleyball. In addition and while growing up, she was involved in dance and played basketball and softball.
When Deleur reached high school, she knew it was time to choose just one sport. And, although it was a tough decision, she chose volleyball in the end because it is what she loves playing and is passionate about.
Since choosing volleyball, Deleur has experienced some great successes.
While as a junior at Olmsted Falls H.S. in 2009, Deleur and the Bulldogs were extremely successful, broke the school record for victories in a season when it compiled a 29-0 record and won the OHSAA state title.
“It was a cool but intense experience,” says Deleur of her trip to the OHSAA State Tournament and winning the title. “We were on television (SportsTime OHio) and the whole school was rooting for us. It is an exoerience that I will never forget.”
Deleur additionally has competed in the Junior Olympics (JO) program, which is a competitive volleyball club that allows boys and girls, usually 10-to-18 years-old, to travel and play volleyball. In the summer of 2010, she and her volleyball club went to the Junior Olympic Nationals Tournament in Reno, Nevada.
Shannon was not even planning to play volleyball in college. Instead, her plans were to attend the University of Akron and receive a degree in nursing. But after a trip to BW and a visit with Brault, her plans changed.
While playing one of her high school matches at OFHS, Brault sat next to Deleur’s parents. Without knowing who they were, she began inquiring about Shannon. The woman mentioned that she was there to scout Shannon because she had heard that Shannon was a talented volleyball player.
That visit changed Deleur’s plans.
“Coach Brault definitely pushes you to be the best you can be, no matter what your position is,” said Deleur with a wide smile. “She doesn’t settle for anything less than our best, and I think that has helped each of us to strive to be better than just good both in the classroom and on the volleyball court.”
Deleur also believes that her success is not possible without the guidance of her parents.
“My parents inspire me,” said Deleur. “My mom is a good person, and my dad always believes in me and thinks that anything is possible. Someday, I want to be just like them.”
In general, Shannon loves to play volleyball.
“We have a warm-up track with music that plays before the games and that gets me excited and pumped up,” said Deleur. ”Being on a team has helped me out for the real world. Everyone has to work together, like in a company. I didn’t choose the team, I joined it. It [playing volleyball] has also made me more outgoing, and I have learned communication skills that I would not learn in a classroom.”
Deleur Was A Standout At Nearby
Olmsted Falls High School
Although the team may not learn the same communication skills on the court as they do in the classroom, they have still risen to the occasion on the volleyball court, on off of it.
“The team has unified and has really created a family-like atmosphere this season,” said Brault, “and that is a credit to our team leaders, and there are a number of them. They have challenged themselves by setting high goals and are starting to see results from all of the hard work that they have put in on and off the court.”
This was shown when BW received a 2010 AVCA Team Award for its grade point average. The American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Team Academic Award honors collegiate and high school teams for their academic excellence in the classroom, and requires teams to maintain a cumulative 3.30 grade point average on a 4.0 scale. During the 2010 season, the Yellow Jackets maintained a 3.312 grade average.
Deleur and Burns are two of the many players on the team that are highly focused on academics. Deleur has proven her academic determination with a 3.3 grade average and is majoring in communication disorders. She also is actively involved in the National Student Sign Language Hearing Association (NSSLHA).
As the team looks forward to future seasons, Deleur is always looking for team improvement.
“I think we’ve improved a lot from last year,” said Deleur. “Last year, we were ranked ninth (out of ten teams) in the 2010 OAC Coaches Preseason Poll and ended up fifth at the end of the season. This season, we were picked fifth and enter the OAC Tournament fourth and with hopes of winning a title.
“We have become a threat,” continued Deleur with an even bigger smile. “Our team chemistry and our team energy is what make us win. We trust each other, and I feel that is why we are winning again this season. We’re also a younger team, too, so we’ll continue to improve with experience.”
Brault feels the same way.
“Although we still have some unfinished business yet this season, we will take the success that we have had in the past two seasons and continue to challenge ourselves and set high goals throughout our spring season and into next year.”
You can bet that Deleur and her teammates are “all-in”.
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