With a veteran squad that includes seven seniors, the Moccasin volleyball team opens it 2011 season this weekend, marking the start of Jill Stephens' second decade as head coach. The Moccasins are coming off a 21-9 season that saw them receive an NCAA tournament bid.
Four starters return, led by senior Lauren Huber, a third-team All-America selection last year. She hit .370 and was second on the team in kills. Senior Anna Niebuhr is back at libero. Completing the "senior seven" are Erin Callahan, Diana Castrillon, Elena Sorich, Kendall Wilde and Katie Wilkerson.
The Moccasins take on St. Edward's (Texas) in Friday's opener at 3:30 p.m. at Jenkins Field House. The Hilltoppers were 18-14 last season and return four starters for coach Sean Donahue's 10th season. Lindy Luleff, a 6-0 senior, led the team in kills last season while junior libero Michelle Hundt was the team-leader in digs. Another senior, Ashley Vander Hey, led the team in aces and was second in kills.
New Haven is the Moccasins' opponent Friday at 7 p.m. Robin Salters is in her 18th season as the Chargers' head coach and returns three starters from last season's 27-3 team. Junior Keidy Candelaria was second on the team in kills, while senior Elizabeth Akinbiyi was third in kills and first in blocks. Senior setter Chelsey Alpough led the team in aces and senior libero Heather Ladao led the team in digs.
Shippensburg, the Moccasins' opponent Saturday at 1:30 p.m. was 19-16 last season, its seventh under coach Leanne Piscotty, and returns the team leaders in kills, digs, blocks and aces. Sophomore Jill Edwards led the team in kills and was the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference rookie of the year last season. Junior Lauren Murphy led the team in digs, senior Libby Woffindin led the team in blocks and was second in kills and junior setter Andrea Heimsoth led the team in aces.
The Moccasins' final opponent Saturday at 7 p.m. is Grand Valley State, led by coach Deanne Scanlon in her 17th season. The Lakers are ranked eighth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association preseason poll after going 26-7 last season and reaching the Division II Elite 8. The Lakers lost four starters from that team, but return sophomore libero Sacha Gill, who led the team in aces and digs, sophomore Stacey Catalano, who was second in kills, and junior Eno Umoh, who was second in blocks. Joining the Laker volleyball program this season after a standout basketball career at Michigan State is 6-9 senior Allyssa DeHaan. She set the Michigan State and Big Ten career records for blocked shots with 503, second-best in NCAA history and was an Honorable Mention All-America selection in 2009-10.
Rollins will play the same four teams in the two-day event. The Tars, in their 11th season under coach Sindee Snow, were 22-10 last season and received an NCAA tournament bid. They return last year's SSC Freshman of the Year Megan Hodges, who was second on the team in kills. They also return sophomore Camille Indest, who led the team in blocks, and junior setter Kiana Parks, who led the team in aces.
The full schedule:
10:00 a.m. - Rollins vs. St. Edward's
1:30 p.m. - Rollins vs. New Haven
3:30 p.m. - Florida Southern vs. St. Edward's
7:00 p.m. - Florida Southern vs. New Haven
10:00 a.m. - Rollins vs. Shippensburg
1:30 p.m. - Florida Southern vs. Shippensburg
3:30 p.m. - Rollins vs. Grand Valley State
7:00 p.m. - Florida Southern vs. Grand Valley State