March 20, 2021 – By NJP

Samantha Dangler is a motivated student athlete that likes to be in the thick of things, no matter what sport she is playing. She is an outstanding athlete that participates in multiple sports including softball, bowling, and of course, volleyball. And she is very good at all of them.

Sam wears her #5 proudly across all sports. Maybe because she is 5’5″ or with her two older she makes the fifth member of her family. But more likely because it’s just her favorite number. But the way she plays, and the impact she has on the sports she plays, opponents always will remember #5.

She has put up almost 300 assists in both her sophomore and junior seasons. Under normal circumstances, she would be headed to 1,000 assist club but this years pandemic will shorten those chances. But she just loves to lead. Whether as a pitcher or in the field playing softball, or quarterbacking her team on the volleyball court, her ability to influence the game in a positive manner just shines.

Sam was just dominant on the serve last season. She slammed 86 aces to not only lead the team but also to achieve one of the top stats in the state in this category. She shares some tips below which everyone will want to read.

ACIT was 17-8 last season and 17-7 her sophomore year. The Red Hawks are off to a 1-1 start this year and Sam is one of the senior leaders on the team. Atlantic Tech still has a lot of talent and don’t be surprised if ACIT and Samantha turn the short year into something special to remember.

Here is our interview with Ms. Dangler…

Tell us a bit about yourself?

My name is Samantha Dangler, I am 18 and a senior this year at Atlantic County Institute of Technology. I am in the dental assisting academy and wish to pursue a career in dental hygiene when I am older. I am from a small town called Mullica and have lived here my whole life. I live here with my mother and father, Jamie and Shawn, as well as my two older brothers, Kyle and Shawn. I have played sports just about my whole life. I did cheerleading until about second grade and then went on to soccer. I stopped soccer in fifth grade and started playing softball, which I still play now, and then I started playing volleyball and basketball in sixth grade! Moving onto high school, I chose ACIT to focus on my career path as I always had a passion for dental. I play three sports for ACIT: volleyball, bowling, and softball. And have been on varsity for all three since my freshman year.

How long have you played volleyball and what inspired you to take up volleyball initially?

I started playing volleyball for a team in sixth grade. At my middle school we had a team, but you weren’t allowed to try out until that grade. I played and started for Mullica all three years and was the starter all the way around. But my love for volleyball started before that. I come from a pretty big family and we always have barbecues in the summer. At these barbeques we played HUGE games of volleyball and that’s when I fell in love. So I started playing when I was three or four but began playing seriously on a team around 11 or 12. So I have been playing for about 7 years competitively!! I really just love the team aspect of the sport.

What are your metrics/details? Height, vertical, position, club team, etc. What’s your favorite position to play?

I am about 5’5 and have a vertical of about 14”. I am a setter as well as a right side hitter, but I play all the way around. I don’t play for a club team but I have played for ACIT the last three years! My favorite position is setter because I love being able to work with everyone and make an impact on just about every play.

You blasted 86 aces last year as a junior, a top 10 in the state. What’s your secret? Do you have any tips for younger high school players on serving?

I always like to call my serve my secret weapon, because it is really something I have mastered over the years. I can tell you one thing, when I came in as a freshman, my serve did not look like that. It was more of a light lob, but one day my coach at the time told me to put a little more into it and ever since then my serves have done nothing but gotten better. As for the power behind the ball, I am a softball player and have a pretty strong arm but use my core and legs to help put some heat onto it. As for location, I just practiced it non-stop, aiming at different spots until I couldn’t miss them. But, I don’t serve the ball hard all the time, I like to put a lot of strategy into it. I always pay attention to what the other team is doing, and what their rotation looks like and then go through a list in my head of what spots I could hit to make it more difficult for them to receive it. So, for the younger servers out there, it doesn’t matter how hard you hit the ball, it’s all about where you put it. So work on your spots and really make it hard for the other team to get it up because if they can get a perfect or even good pass off of your serve, they most likely won’t be able to get a perfect set or hit either giving your team the advantage. Also, don’t be timid or scared to hit the ball hard!

You are now over 600 assists for your career. What is the best part of being a setter?

The best part about being the setter is being able to work with everyone on the team and being a part of most if not all plays. I was an outside and right side hitter my freshman year and really enjoyed it, but hated the games where I barely got to touch the ball. Now, as a setter I always get that second touch on the ball really being able to determine where it goes and how it’s played. I also love the mental aspect of it. I love the adrenaline you get when you have that perfect pass, as well as the pressure as the game can fall into your hands at times. Setting is just such a deep passion I have and I love everything about it, good and bad. I also love that as a setter, height doesn’t really matter as long as you have good technique and a strong determination to play. I am on the shorter side for volleyball players, so I love that it doesn’t really affect me when setting.

Tech finished 17-8 last season but loses 5 solid senior varsity contributors to graduation.   What kind of season do you expect?

As some people like to call this stage the rebuild stage, I feel as though we will still be competing as a top team. Although we lost many of our key players, we still have a lot of talent left. We have a lot of really athletic girls who will be able to step up and fill these spots quickly.  We will probably have a rough start as many of the girls are new to the competition and pace, but as the season moves on, I think we will have a solid team and be able compete and come out on top on some of the harder teams.

Atlantic County Institute of Technology - Wikipedia

Tell us about your Red Hawk teammates. Who do you expect will be this year’s standout and up and coming players?  

We have a good group of girls this year. We have three sophomores: Carleigh Morris, Myla Domazet, and Kiara Paduani. We have two juniors: Sophia LaPorta and Abbigail Sibley. And then three seniors, me, Alexandra Helduser, and Emily Hanselmann. I really believe that out of the younger players both Myla and Sophia are going to be major standouts on the team. Myla is a middle with a really good swing, a big block, and is very smart with where she places the ball. Sophia plays all the way around. She has a crazy high vertical giving her a really good swing as well as block. As a defensive player, she is super fast and has some really good digs.

NJP considers you as one of the top players in the state. Do you plan on playing in College? (If so, which ones will you look at?)

This is a really tough question at the moment. So, my junior year I committed to RCBC for softball on a full ride scholarship. Due to COVID, the season has been placed on hold and they are not sure whether the program will continue or not. So, leaving my options open I am looking to hopefully play volleyball for ACCC if I can not attend RCBC. So, to make a long answer short, I wasn’t originally looking to play volleyball in college, but now I am.

You are an accomplished softball player for ACIT and club. What sport do you prefer? How different is pitching rather than setting?

To be completely honest, I can not choose between these two sports. I really enjoy volleyball as well as softball and think they both have their pros and cons. I love the team aspect of both of them and I love how both sports are composed of many different skills. For example, for softball you need to be able to field, throw and hit. In volleyball, you need to be able to serve, pass and hit as well. So these two sports, although are very different, are also kind of similar in a way. When it comes to pitching and setting, they are two very similar positions. These two positions are both the so-called “quarterbacks” of their team. Pitching, you get to place the ball where you choose, just like setting, and you also get to determine the outcome a little. So they are very similar in terms of pressure and as well as purpose. But they are different because when you are pitching it is direct competition with you and the opponent. But when setting, you are giving the ball to someone else on your team for them to be able to win that competition. So the better the set, the better the opportunity they have. I guess that is really the only difference to me between setting and pitching. It’s just a different kind of pressure.

Who inspires you?

My younger cousins really inspire me to be the best version of myself possible. I have a few younger family members who look up to me and always tell me how they want to be just like me. I always strive to be a good role model for them and show them that with hard work and dedication, you can make anything possible. I show them to be a leader and to go on your own path. They just inspire me every single day to be better than what I was the day before. I teach them to be kind and welcoming to everyone and to love themselves as well as others. They keep me going and really just make me so happy.

Have you won any awards such as All County or All State or others?

My sophomore year I won first team all-CAL and I am hoping to do the same this year!

What do you do during the offseason to stay in shape and prepare for next year? (Club team? Workouts? Watch VB vids? Go to College games?) Do you play other sports? (if so, which ones?)

During the offseason, I am in the gym just about everyday. I lift, do cardio, as well as do some HIIT workouts! Something volleyball specific that I do is I play on a beach volleyball team with my boyfriend’s family in Ventnor, it is nothing serious, but is a lot of fun and keeps the ball in my hand. I also play two other sports, I play softball and bowling. I am always watching college games both during the season and the offseason because I just really enjoy watching sports.

Is there a teacher or coach who really helped you along the way?

There are two coaches that have really helped me become the volleyball player I am today. In middle school my coach Daniel Driscoll really helped teach me the basics and pushed me daily on and off the court. He really helped me build my volleyball IQ and start thinking more about each and every play. He helped me build a love for this sport and really just helped in every way possible to get me started as a young player. When I got to high school, my coach Kevin Miller really made a huge difference. He worked hard with me everyday since freshman year and always had confidence in me no matter what. He has taught me how to pick myself back up, how to work hard, and how to become a leader on and off the court. He has really helped me perfect some of my skills and really just helped me advance to the way I play today and although he is no longer my coach, everyday he still answers my questions and helps me out. Whether it be I’m stressed out because I can’t figure something out or it is something I need help on doing better. He has always had my back and I couldn’t be more thankful.

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