Nov. 23, 2013
PITTSBURGH -Volleyball seniors Monica Wignot and Maria Nicholas feel like they have a special bond as the lone seniors on the team. There were supposed to be five seniors celebrating their last home match Sunday afternoon versus N.C. State at Fitzgerald Field House, instead it's just the two of them.
"It's a little different because we started out with five girls in our class and now we're the only two left, the only two who made it," Wignot said. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, especially with the different coaching staffs, but it's definitely been exciting."
Head Coach Dan Fisher has only been around the team for one season, but he knows what he's losing in his senior outside hitter.
"Monica is one of our team captains. She's a little more of a blue-collar, no-nonsense kind of girl who just works and is consistent. She's not very vocal but she's a leader by example. Mo has been battling injuries all year but never complains or feels sorry for herself. She carries a big load passing and hitting so she'll be tough to replace and we'll be sad to see her go."
Maria Nicholas, a 5-5 defensive specialist from Gibsonia, Pa., brings a lot of energy and intensity to her team on the court.
"We're losing two great leaders who lead in different ways," said Fisher. "Maria is more of a vocal leader, a little bit more fiery who will do whatever the team needs her to do to win. Ever since we've been here as a new coaching staff, she's bought in right away so she'll be dearly missed."
There's no doubt that both girls are going to miss their time at Pitt greatly.
"I think what makes Pitt so great is our team chemistry," Nicholas commented. "I've never been on a team where we genuinely like each other outside of volleyball and are best friends off the court. I'm really going to miss my teammates and being with them every day."
"The road trips are some of my best memories here at Pitt," Wignot claimed. "Whether we had downtime in an airport or were traveling on a bus to a match, all of us girls love to hang out with each other and we had a lot of fun."
Not only will Wignot and Nicholas miss the time on the volleyball court once they graduate, but they're going to miss everything else about the University that allowed them to call Oakland home for the past four years.
"I chose Pitt for their great academics and because the school is amazing. I love the city of Pittsburgh, I only live 30 minutes away, and knew I wanted to stay close to home, it was a perfect fit," Nicholas said.
Wignot shares the same passion and love for her soon-to-be alma mater as Nicholas. "Coming on my visit I just fell in love with the campus, the girls on the team and it just felt right. I had that feeling that I knew this was the place for me and could picture myself walking around campus as a student."
One thing that really stood out to the girls when they were reflecting on their time here at Pitt was the Cathy & John Pelusi Family Life Skills Program.
"The Life Skills program that Pitt has to offer is one of the best in the country," said Nicholas. "I remember meeting Penny Semaia (Assistant Athletic Director, Student Life) on my unofficial visit and was blown away by all of the things Pitt had to offer, and that was one of the big reasons I chose Pitt. They open so many doors for you and really help you develop into a whole person and not just an athlete. I owe a lot of credit to them for where I'm at today."
Wignot added, "They really helped me with my time management and provided us with awesome opportunities like their different etiquette series' and programs."
Wignot and Nicholas both see great things in the future for the Pitt program and a big reason for that is the new coaching staff.
"It's unfortunate that we only had one year with them because it would have been awesome to start and go four years with them, but even to have one was incredible and a great experience," Wignot said. "They've made a huge impact in one year so I can't even imagine what's going to happen in the years coming up. It's only going to get better and I'm jealous that I only had one season with them."
Nicholas voiced the same admiration for the staff of Dan Fisher, Craig Dyer and Lindsey Campbell. "Our coaching staff this year has completely turned the program around and has really made playing fun again. I think we lost sight of that for a little bit. I think the team is going to be awesome next year and in three years I can only imagine. I'm excited for the whole program in the upcoming years."
As their final collegiate volleyball matches are right around the corner, both Monica Wignot and Maria Nicholas are looking forward to the future. Wignot, a psychology major, plans to attend graduate school here at Pitt for Social Work. Nicholas also plans to attend graduate school for education and focus on a program called ACE (Alliance for Catholic Education) that is run through Notre Dame.
Looking ahead doesn't mean the girls wish they couldn't go back and hit rewind for the past four years. Both Wignot and Nicholas agreed in saying, "If we could go back and do it again, we'd do it exactly the same way, we would both come here and choose to play at Pitt."