Tonawanda News — When Joanna Fretthold finished her high school volleyball career at North Tonawanda, she had no idea what her next step would be. She loved volleyball but waited too long to look into college options and therefore was left with very few when she graduated.
Her club volleyball coach Mark Parisi suggested Daemen College, where he coached and felt that Fretthold's talents could be better utilized. So she decided to be a Wildcat and Parisi moved her from middle hitter to the outside where he felt she could be more dynamic.
Four years later, Fretthold looks back on her decision to go to Daemen as the best one she ever made, and the postion change allowed her to blossom into the volleyball star her coach always envisioned.
Fretthold led Daemen to the program's first ever national championship on Nov. 4 and earned tournament MVP honors in the process. She finished the season with team bests in kills (323 and 2.78 per set) and serving aces (34), and her 387 digs were good for third on the squad.
Daemen is in the process of transitioning to Division 2 for all of its sports and in the meantime is competing in the USCAA. The Wildcats failed to qualify for nationals last season, falling in the NAIA conference tournament — but Fretthold said that disappointment helped the team this season realize how rare an opportunity it had with a majority of starters returning.
"It was so disappointing at the end of last season even though we played really well — it was a let down. This year was a huge redeemer, being able to come back and not only make nationals but win it. We knew what a good team we had," Fretthold said. "I went into nationals thinking as long as we play our absolute best and give it everything we have, and me personally just put it all out there, then I would be happy with the weekend."