The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Scott sets to close phenomenal volleyball career

Mary Frances Scott has accomplished a lot during her four seasons as setter for the Virginia volleyball team.

She led the Cavaliers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament bid. She set the Virginia career assists record last year. Her current career total of 5,648 is good enough for third on the ACC career assists list, and she needs only 104 to overtake second place.

With those numbers, you'd think Scott would be quick to praise her accomplishments, or at least pat herself on the back.

But to Scott, those numbers aren't important.

"Those things don't even matter in the big picture," the Phoenix native said. "The fact that I'm Virginia's all-time leader and third in the ACC, that's great and I'm glad, but when it comes down to it, who cares? ... It doesn't make who I am, it doesn't show what kind of person I am."

Scott got a grasp of the "big picture" at a very early age when her older sister Haley, a swimmer for Notre Dame, suffered a broken back when the team bus crashed in 1992.

Doctors told Haley she would never walk again, but she went through several surgeries and months of rehabilitation to return to the swim team in 1993 - winning the first heat of her first event back after the accident.

Mary, who spent the rest of the school year living with her grandmother while her parents stayed in South Bend, said her sister's injury and recovery changed her outlook on life.

"That just put a totally different perspective on life, on what's important, on counting your blessings," she said. "Because of what happened to my sister I had to grow up very fast and become very responsible very fast. I'm anal about being on time, having little things done and making sure things are done right.

"I'm definitely not wild and crazy like my sister," she added. "Although every once in a while I try to be. It doesn't happen very often."

Scott's stability extends onto the volleyball court as well, which is imperative for the setter.

"It's definitely a position that requires stable play," Scott said. "If your hitters are off or your passers are off, you have to be the one that stays stable."

"Her actions on the court and off the court are what make us win," Cavalier Coach Melissa Aldrich Shelton said. "She goes on her day off and does extra conditioning, she comes in every summer in tremendous shape, she eats right, she makes sure she gets her schoolwork done and doesn't wait till the last minute. ... I've never had to worry about her talking care of business off the court."

Scott's ability to take care of business on the court isn't a surprise. After all, she comes from a family stocked with great athletes. Besides her sister, her father Steve and brother Steve, Jr. both played college baseball and her mother Charlotte played both basketball and volleyball. The athletic genes extend even further on the family tree - former NBA player Kiki Vandeweghe is a cousin.

Scott said in her family, athletics are an understood part of life.

"I don't know how other families work but you always played a sport," she said. "It was never a question of whether or not you want to play for a team, but what team do you want to try out for? It was just a given."

Although Scott also tried soccer, tennis and swimming, she said she found herself drawn to volleyball at an early age, and started to play year-round in sixth grade.

"I loved it, it was just so different," Scott said. "Swimming was just like up and back and that was it. There's four things you can do in swimming, but they're all up and back. [Volleyball] was just fun. [Also] I was tall at the time, but I'm not so tall now."

But the 5-foot-9 Scott compensates for any lack of height with a lot of talent. Combine that with veteran leadership, mix in a strong will to win, and you have all the elements needed to be one of the greatest, if not the most important, players in Virginia volleyball history.

"She's definitely the most significant player right now," Aldrich Shelton said. "She's been starting for four years. For her to be able to stay healthy and stay that convicted with her belief and her principles for every match is incredible."

But after all the games, all the practices and two years as a captain for the Cavaliers, Scott will play her final home match tonight against Maryland at 7:30 p.m. in University Hall. She said she expects it to be emotional.

"I will definitely be sad, because it's been a part of my life for so long," she added. "All year round since sixth grade, 11 years, that's a big end of an era in life. It'll be something that I miss. It'll be something that I can't believe is over. I know I'll cry."

But things aren't over for Scott yet, even after tonight. She still hasn't accomplished one of her goals, to win the ACC Tournament.

"It's just something that I want, something that I want to give to Jessica [Parsons] and Whitney" Bilger, Scott said. "It's something you play for. You don't play volleyball at this level unless you want to win. That's the ultimate goal ... to say that you were the best, for this year."

But regardless of how the ACC Tournament turns out, Scott will go down as one of the best to suit up for the Cavaliers.