COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - Every athletic program features that one
pivotal player who enjoys such an outstanding career that he or she
sets the standards for all players who follow.
Rachel Melchiorre was that player in Tennessee Tech women's volleyball, establishing match, season and career record numbers that every player since her has strived to equal - so far nobody has.
In recognition of her astounding success as well as her academic accomplishments, Melchiorre is one of five people who will be enshrined into the Tennessee Tech Sports Hall of Fame this weekend as the school honors its athletic legacy with the 34th annual induction ceremony.
The 2008 Hall of Fame Class will be honored during Homecoming this weekend. The induction will take place at the Hall of Fame Dinner Friday evening, and the group will also be recognized at the Homecoming football game Saturday against Jacksonville State.
Melchiorre also established a list of honors and awards that has not been matched in the 10 years since her departure.
A four-year starter under coach Jennie Gilbert from 1994 to 1997, Melchiorre wrapped up her senior season by leading the Golden Eagles to the OVC Tournament championship and the program's only appearance in the NCAA Tournament. An outside hitter, Melchiorre was named AVCA All-Region, in addition to her third consecutive all-OVC honor. She was the MVP of the OVC Tournament, and was named to the All-Tournament team.
With Melchiorre headlining the attack, both on offense and defense, the Golden Eagles wrapped up the season with a nine-match winning streak that propelled them into the NCAA Regional, before falling at Colorado. Tech was 23-10 overall that year, winning 17 of the final 20 matches, including three consecutive 3-1 victories in the OVC tournament.
She was voted Tech's NCAA Woman of the Year following her career, but lost out in a narrow margin in voting for Tech's Female Athlete of the Year to Diane Seng.
It was a fitting finish for Melchiorre, who opener her volleyball career by earning a spot on the OVC All-Freshman Team.
In between, she set career records that still stand, including most kills (1,662), most digs (1,586) and most service aces (229). She also had the most attacks (4,453) in school history.
Melchiorre's name also appears in the match and season record books. She owns the school marks for most kills (30) and most service aces (7) in a four-game match. She set the record (592) for most kills in a season, and she has the two highest single-season marks (71 and 65) for most service aces in a season. Her 571 digs as a senior was a school record, until it was topped two years ago -- by a single dig.
In addition to her success on the court, Melchiorre also ranks as one of the most successful student-athletes in Tech history in her classroom work. She was named all four years to the OVC Commissioner's Acadmic Honor Roll, was listed 10 semesters on the TTU Athletic Director's Honor Roll, and was named Academic All-America in 1997, in addition to being a three-time Academic All-District selection.
Joining Melchiorre in the Class of 2008 are Chris Hedman, Mark Maberry, John "Shakey" McClellan and Tom Pack. With their induction, the Hall of Fame will grow to 148 since it was established in 1975.
Tickets to the Hall of Fame Dinner and the game are available by calling (931) 372-3940, or through the Athletics ticket office in Eblen Center. Reservations must be made for the dinner, and tickets are $25 each.