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Union Grad Atzeni Taking on Volleyball and Time Crunch at Mount Aloysius College

CRESSON, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Hannah Atzeni is just happy to be on the volleyball court again. To get down on the floor to dive for a ball again. To make a set again. To cheer with her teammates after a clutch point again.

Last year was a trying one for the Union High School graduate. As a junior at Mount Aloysius College, she didn’t have much of a season to speak of because of COVID-19.

(Photos Courtesy of Mount Aloysius College)

Like many teams, the pandemic forced the cancellation of the fall season for the Mounties in 2020. The school did play a few matches in the spring, but it was just a shell of a campaign.

Hardly satisfying.

“It was challenging,” Atzeni said. “Getting tested probably twice a week, wearing masks, just practicing in the fall and not having a season. Just being around my teammates, though, we just tried to stay positive and tried to make the best of it.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.

The 5-foot-4 Atzeni was coming off a strong sophomore season in 2019 as a defensive specialist/setter. She had 135 digs and 35 assists for the Mounties, who were 18-10 and reached the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference semifinals.

Atzeni, a Sligo native, was expecting big things — both for herself and her team — in 2020. Those lofty expectation made the scuttling of the season even more difficult to stomach.

Atzeni, however, didn’t dwell so much on the negative. She, as well as her teammates, chose to focus on the positives, namely being able to play at all. Even a short season was better than no season, they figured.

“I think we were lucky to even play in the spring as other teams in our conference didn’t even get to see the court,” Atzeni said. “We took advantage of the time we actually got to play and worked on the stuff we needed to improve on for the fall.”

Even playing had its drawbacks. The players were required to wear masks while on the court and Atzeni said that was very challenging for multiple reasons.

Yet Atzeni again found a way to persevere.

“Volleyball is a very mental sport, as well as a game of mistakes,” Atzeni said. “It was challenging with a mask because we needed to communicate louder as a team out on the court so everyone was on the same page. By the end of the spring season, I think it only made our team stronger and ready to play an actual season this fall.”

Mount Aloysius opened the 2021 season this past weekend in Virginia Beach, Va., dropping all four matches against top competition from across the region. Atzeni played well as the primary setter with 31 assists. She also had 11 digs and three aces.

It was a long bus ride to Virginia Beach, but Atzeni has learned to adapt to the travel in her collegiate career.

Atzeni has always been a master at multitasking. That skill was cultivated in high school when she played volleyball in the fall, basketball in the winter and competed in track and field in the spring.

She’s only gotten better at it at Mount Aloysius. With her classwork done and her clinical rotation started as an ultrasound technician, Atzeni works full-time. After he shift is over, she goes to volleyball practice or plays in a game, or climbs onto a bus for another road trip.

Time management is more important than ever for Atzeni.

“You can’t waste any time,” she said.

Atzeni has lived by that motto.

She realizes, now more than ever, how fleeting things can be.

The end of her volleyball career is rapidly approaching and Atzeni has become all-too cognizant of that fact. Volleyball quickly became her favorite sport in high school and she excelled at it for the Damsels.

Her goal was to play in college. She achieved that. It will be over soon.

“It’s starting to sink in,” Atzeni said. “Everything we’re doing is the last time I’ll do it. This preseason, it was like, ‘This is the last time I’ll be getting ready for a season.’

“You just have to cherish every moment,” Atzeni added, “especially now that I’m a senior. It’s just like, ‘Wow, this is my last season.’ I have to just play and have fun with my team while I can. And that COVID time put that in perspective for me, I guess, that wow, it can be taken away just like that.”

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Redbank Valley, Keystone, and Union/A-C Valley sports coverage on Explore and is brought to you by Heeter Lumber.