Game is in the blood of Howland’s Murcko

It was bound to happen sooner or later. Howland senior volleyball player Cassie Murcko had the sport in her bloodlines, and eventually, she became hooked. Hooked for life, for that matter.

Both of her parents have played volleyball, and her mother played at Youngstown State, back in the day. Anyone who has seen Cassie play will immediately point out her competitiveness and enthusiasm on the court.

“I think she (Cassie) gets a lot of it from her parents,” Howland coach Amanda Lingenfelter said. “I think her parents instilled that in her, before she even first started touching volleyballs, probably when she was 8, 9 years old. She comes out and wants to win every single match (and) we try to give her the ball.”

Murcko, who recently recorded her 1,000th career kill, was highly-touted at a young age. Lingenfelter, now in her sixth year as the Tigers coach, said that the program had their eye on Murcko when Lingenfelter first arrived at the school, making Cassie just 12 years old at the time.

Being the daughter of a Division I college volleyball player will do that, and if her career is any indication, it appeared that Howland had good reason to keep its eyes on Murcko, from the beginning.

“As a freshman, we were expecting big, big things from her,” Lingenfelter said. “Even up through junior high, I think she was in seventh grade when I first started at Howland, (we had) always expected big things, and we’re getting it (from her).”

Lingenfelter said that Murcko has shown great improvement in her self-confidence over her Tiger career. While the 5-foot-11 outside hitter has always displayed a knack for the game, Murcko didn’t always realize that she was destined to continue on with her volleyball career beyond her prep days, that is, until recently.

“Last year, towards the end of the year, when our setter got hurt, I set for the team,” Murcko explained. “Realizing that I could play all the way around and do all the positions, I started thinking that I can do this. I want to continue this and I want to do it forever.”

Currently, Murcko is being recruited by some Division II and III schools, but she’s currently unsure of where she’ll attend. Being the fierce competitor that she is, whatever school Murcko chooses will definitely be getting a good one.

Not suprisingly, Murcko celebrates Howland’s team accomplishments more than anything she does on the court individually, including her kills feat. As for her favorite moment at Howland, it all starts and ends with the scoreboard.

“Winning,” Murcko said, laughing. “Going from last year and not having a winning record, to this year having a winning record, that’s new for Howland volleyball. (We recently) beat Hubbard, (and) that’s the best thing that could ever happen.”