Women’s NCAA Preview 2013

Noisemakers, clockwise from top left: Natalie Hagglund, USC; Lauren Plum, Oregon; Kelly Reeves, UCLA; Lexi Erwin, Michigan; Caitlin Welch, Louisville; Kristen Hahn, Iowa State; Emily Hartong, Hawaii; Chloe Mann, Florida; Alexa Gray, BYU. Not pictured: Uni

The 2013 NCAA Women’s Volleyball season is fast approaching and with it comes the annual speculations as to who will be crowned national champions. Texas is on a mission to defend their title with a strong core of returners and a highly-ranked recruiting class, but the Longhorns aren’t the only team taking the court this fall with a stacked roster. VBM has identified five squads poised to contend for the title, 10 that could make serious noise, and five more emerging as forces on the national radar.

POISED TO CONTEND

_______________

NEBRASKA

2012 Record: 26-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Final
Head Coach: John Cook (548-114; 20 years)
Key Returners: Morgan Broekhuis (Sr., Opp.), Meghan Haggerty (So., MB)
Key Losses: Lauren Cook (S), Gina Mancuso (OH), Hannah Werth (OH), Lara Dykstra (L)
Key Newcomers: Amber Rolfzen (Fr., OH), Kadie Rolfzen (Fr., OH), Kelly Hunter (Fr., S), Alexa Ethridge (Fr., L), Brenna Lyles (Fr., L), Justine Wong-Orantes (Fr., L), Kira Larson (Fr., MB), Melanie Keil (Fr., MB), Kelsey Robinson (Sr., OH), Mary Pollmiller (Jr., S)

Notes on Nebraska: Despite a dramatically different roster featuring ten new faces, Nebraska should once again be poised to contend for the national title. The Huskers bring in the top-ranked recruiting class in the nation (prepvolleyball.com) as well as Tennessee transfers Robinson and Pollmiller. Returning starters Broekhuis (322k, 75b), Thramer (197k, 140b), and Haggerty (232k, 113b) will anchor the young team. It will require both returning players and newcomers alike to replace the huge holes left by Mancuso (428k, 51b, 297d) and Werth (360k, 68b, 390d), the top two scorers from last year’s squad, as well as setter Cook (1,372a) and libero Dykstra (371d).

Coach Cook on the team: “I think we’re lacking in experience with a limited number of returning players with game experience, but our talent, passion and work ethic will make up for it.”

Fun While It Lasted: This fall, the Huskers are moving their home court from the Coliseum to the Devaney Center. During their tenure at the 4,035-seat Coliseum, Nebraska won over 90 percent of their home matches and set the NCAA record for most consecutive sellouts of a women’s sport. The university hopes the larger facility will bring in even more fans.

>>Read more about the Huskers' prospects for the 2013 season

_______________

TEXAS

2012 Record: 29-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA Champions
Head Coach: Jerritt Elliott (345-91; 13 years)
Key Returners: Hannah Allison (Sr., S), Khat Bell (Jr., MB/OH), Kat Brooks (So., L), Nicole Dalton (So., OH/S), Haley Eckerman (Jr., OH), Molly McCage (So., MB), Sarah Palmer (Sr., L), Bailey Webster (Sr., OH)
Key Losses: Sha’Dare McNeal (OH)
Key Newcomers: Tiffany Baker (Jr., OH), Chloe Collins (Fr., S), Pilar Victoria Lopez (Fr., OH), Chiaka Ogbogu (Fr., MB)

Notes on Texas: Back-to-back national titles aren’t out of the question for this veteran Texas squad. Experienced at every position, the Longhorns return eight key contributors and add the fifth-ranked recruiting class. The Longhorns return First Team All-American outsides Webster (435k, 63d, 89b) and Eckerman (504k, 234d, 47b) to lead the offense. The loss of Honorable Mention All-American McNeal is a setback that will need to be accounted for, but Honorable Mention All-American Bell (216k, 142b) is back as a dominant net force along with her middle-blocking counterpart McCage (119k, 103b). Also back are setter Allison (1186a) and all-around standout Dalton (35k, 171a, 184d, 32b), while Palmer (403d) and Brooks (112d) return to the back row. With such an experienced, deep roster, this season should be one where “Don’t mess with Texas” becomes more than a cliché.

Coach Elliott on the schedule: “The Texas staff is not afraid to challenge our program early in the season. We will have the toughest preseason schedule in the country with Hawaii, San Diego, Penn State, Stanford, Arizona State, Illinois, and Nebraska. We will be a battle-tested team heading into tough Big 12 Conference play as we prepare to defend our Big 12 Championship.”

How Sweet It Is: Texas has reached at least the round of 16 every year since 2006.

_______________

PENN STATE

2012 Record: 33-3
2012 Postseason: NCAA Semifinals
Head Coach: Russ Rose (1, 091-175; 34 years)
Key Returners: Megan Courtney (So., OH), Lacey Fuller (Jr., DS), Dominique Gonzalez (Jr., L), Nia Grant (Jr., MB), Micha Hancock (Jr., S), Maddie Martin (Sr., OH), Deja McClendon (Sr., OH), Ariel Scott (Sr., Opp.), Katie Slay (Sr., MB), Aiyana Whitney (RS So., OH)
Key Losses: Kristin Carpenter (S/DS)
Key Newcomers: Laura Broerman (Fr., DS), Taylor Krause (Fr., DS/S), Carley Muller (Fr., DS), Paulina Prieto-Cerame (RS Fr., OH), Kelly Robertson (Fr., MB)

Notes on Penn State: Penn State is once again in a position to vie for the national title this fall as they return all but two players from last season’s NCAA semifinalist squad, including First Team All-Americans Hancock (1,403a) and Scott (469k, 102b, 105d), Second Team All-American Slay (279k, 164b), and Third Team All-American McClendon (403k, 70b, 339d). Big Ten Freshman of the Year Courtney (240k, 101b, 237d) is also back to round out the Nittany Lions’ offense, while Gonzalez (457d) returns to pace the defense. Whitney and Prieto-Cerame return to the mix after redshirting last season, adding depth and experience to the already stacked Penn State roster.

Coach Rose on the team: “This year’s team has a great mixture of experience and athleticism as well as a great deal of success. This year will all be determined on how they blend together.”

Tradition of Excellence: Penn State has chalked up a jaw-dropping 15 Big Ten titles and 32 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances under the guidance of Russ Rose. Even more impressive are the Nittany Lions’ four-straight national titles (2007-2010).

_______________

STANFORD

2012 Record: 30-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA Quarterfinals
Head Coach: John Dunning (778-163; 28 years)
Key Returners: Jordan Burgess (So., OH), Carly Wopat (Sr., MB), Inky Ajanaku (So., MB), Brittany Howard (So., OH), Madi Bugg (So., S), Kyle Gilbert (Jr., L/DS), Rachel Williams (Sr., OH), Morgan Boukather (Jr., OH)
Key Losses: Karissa Cook (S)
Key Newcomers: Kelsey Humphreys (Fr., S), Grace Kennedy (Fr., OH), Merete Lutz (Fr., MB), Ivana Vanjak (Fr., OH)

Notes on Stanford: After last season’s NCAA Quarterfinal appearance, Stanford is back in full force to contend for the title. The Cardinal return six starters and all of their offensive leaders, including All-American middle blockers Wopat (First Team, 335k, 171b) and Ajanaku (Honorable Mention, 281k, 143b) and the outside hitting tandem of Burgess (333k, 64b, 395d) and Howard (286k, 65b, 330d). Bugg (980a) is back to lead Stanford’s offense, while Gilbert (557d) returns to the backcourt. Add the No. 8-ranked recruiting class to the mix and Stanford promises to be a formidable force this season.

Coach Dunning on the team: “We are all excited to see the road this team will take this upcoming year. Our goals will be to see how much we can improve throughout the whole season and how much we can motivate each other. There are going to be so many really good teams this year, we know we will have to fight hard every time we take the court.”

Growing Up Fast: During the 2012 season, four of Stanford’s freshman chalked up serious playing time. Ajanaku, Burgess, Bugg, and Howard each took the court in more than 100 of the 125 total sets Stanford played.

_______________

MINNESOTA

2012 Record: 27-8
2012 Postseason: NCAA Quarterfinals
Head Coach: Hugh McCutcheon (27-8; 2 years)
Key Returners: Tori Dixon (Sr., MB), Alexandra Palmer (Sr., S), Ashley Wittman (Sr., OH)
Key Losses: Katherine Harms (OH)
Key Newcomers: Tyler-Marie “Kalei” Mau (Fr., OH), Katie Schau (Fr., S), Hannah Tapp (Fr., MB/OH), Paige Tapp (Fr., MB/Opp.), Sarah Wilhite (Fr., OH), Clelia DeFelice (So., MB), Sydney Howard (So., S), Adrianna Nora (Jr., MB/Opp.)

Notes on Minnesota: Under the guidance of McCutcheon, Minnesota’s experienced returning class and promising newcomers have the potential to win a national title in 2013. In his first year at the helm as a collegiate coach, McCutcheon led his squad to an NCAA quarterfinals appearance in 2012, and the Gophers welcome back 10 players from that campaign. Joining the line are 10 new faces, including the No. 3-ranked recruiting class, as well as transfers DeFelice (Oregon), Howard (South Dakota State), and Nora (Baylor). Despite the loss of First Team All-American Harms (515k, 311d, 93b), last season’s leader in kills, Minnesota should continue to be strong offensively behind the play of Second Team All-American Dixon (383k, 133b), Honorable Mention All-American Wittman (357k, 350d, 50b), and setter Palmer (1,247a). If the Gophers can embrace roles and gel as a group, they will be in good shape when the NCAA tournament rolls around.

Coach McCutcheon on the team: “At Minnesota, we don’t focus solely on the result; we also care about the process. We hope to improve every play, every day to become the best team we can be by the end of the season. This year, we have a larger roster which will make for great competition in our gym. With a strong returning core and some talented newcomers, we look forward to seeing what we can accomplish this season.”

Not Your Average Rookie: Hugh McCutcheon might be a newcomer to the college-coaching world, but he isn’t exactly a rookie. McCutcheon has two Olympic medals, earning a gold medal at the 2008 Olympic Games as head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team and a silver medal at the 2012 Olympic Games as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

NOISEMAKERS

_______________

USC

2012 Record: 30-6
2012 Postseason: NCAA Quarterfinals
Head Coach: Mick Haley (836-208; 28 years)
Key Returners: Alexis Olgard (Sr., MB), Samantha Bricio (So., OH), Hayley Crone (Jr., S), Natalie Hagglund (Sr., L), Alicia Ogoms (So., MB), Sara Shaw (Sr., OH), Hannah Schraer (Jr., MB)
Key Losses: Katie Fuller (OH)
Key Newcomers: Ebony Nwanebu (Fr., OH), Elise Ruddins (Fr., OH), Alice Pizzasegola (Fr., L/DS), Kelly Wimmer (Fr., L/DS), Taylor Whittingham (Fr., L/DS)

Notes on USC: The Trojans return a solid core from last season’s 30-6 NCAA Quarterfinalist team and bring in the No. 2-ranked recruiting class. Defensive savant Hagglund (613d) is back to frustrate opposing hitters, and Crone (1,337a) returns to direct the Trojan offense. USC loses all-around weapon Fuller (384k, 252d, 63b), but will look to Pac-12 Freshman of the Year/Honorable Mention All-American Bricio (491k, 289d, 47b) for continued offensive production. After spending last season battling illness, Schraer is expected back to complement Olgard (223k, 103b) and Ogoms (146k, 83b) in the middle.

Coach Haley on the team: “Our 2013 squad is very talented. We have three seniors with tremendous starting experience who are outstanding in their particular roles. Our freshman class is truly an exciting one that I think brings in a lot of leadership, point-scoring potential, and defensive prowess that is going to be tested in the first week. With a roster like this, let the fun begin.”

International Effort: The USC roster has players from across both borders: Alicia Ogoms hails from Canada and Samantha Bricio is from Mexico.

_______________

OREGON

2012 Record: 30-5
2012 Postseason: NCAA Finalist
Head Coach: Jim Moore (518-242; 24 years)
Key Returners: Lauren Plum (Sr., S), Canace Finley (So., MB), Liz Brenner (Jr., OH), Ariana Williams (Sr., MB)
Key Losses: Alaina Bergsma (OH), Katherine Fischer (OH), Haley Jacob (L)
Key Newcomers: Haylee Roberts (Fr., MB), Naya Crittenden (Fr., OH), Kacey Nady (Fr., MB), Amanda Benson (Fr., L/DS), Nicky Kevorken (Fr., MB), Bethany Bair (Sr., OH), Serena Warner (Jr., MB)

Notes on Oregon: The Ducks, fresh off an NCAA Final appearance, return two All-Americans from last year’s standout season and add seven newcomers to the mix. First Team All-American Plum (1,618a) is back to run Oregon’s lightning-fast offense, while Second Team All-American Brenner (466k, 308d, 53b) returns as an all-around threat. Transfers Bair (Weber State) and Warner (Ohio University) add depth and experience to the squad. The Ducks will need to compensate for the loss of AVCA Player of the Year/First Team All-American Bergsma (572k, 308d, 53b) and fill the holes left by Fischer (335k, 301d, 27b) and Jacob (525d), but Williams (301k, 83b) and Finley (122k, 86b) are back to defend the net.

Coach Moore on the team: “Two of the three All-Americans are back [Plum and Brenner], so logic says they’re the ones who will lead us. We have things in place. I think physically we are better, but we have a lot of people that need to step up and step into roles.”

In Good Company: On their way to the 2012 NCAA Championship match, Oregon defeated Northern Colorado, Dayton, BYU, Nebraska, and Penn State before falling to Texas in the last match of the season. Five of those six schools finished the season with an NCAA top-25 ranking, and three of the six were ranked in the top ten.

_______________

UCLA

2012 Record: 23-8
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Michael Sealy (75-23; 4 years)
Key Returners: Kelly Reeves (Sr., OH), Megan Moenoa (Jr., S), Mariana Aquino (Sr., MB), Zoë Nightingale (Jr., MB), Meg Norton (Sr., DS/L), Karsta Lowe (Jr., OH)
Key Losses: Tabi Love (OH), Bojana Todorovic (L/OH), Rachael Kidder (OH), Becca Strehlow (S)
Key Newcomers: Haley Lawless (RS Fr., OH), Skylar Dykstra (Fr., L), Claire Felix (Fr., MB), Jennie Frager (Fr., MB), Jordan Robbins (Fr., S)

Notes on UCLA: The Bruins have the components to be a stand-out squad this season if players can step up or step into new roles and gel as a group. Six starters return, but the Bruin’s lose their All-American offensive leaders from last season’s 23-8 squad: Love (First Team, 505k, 92d, 64b) and Kidder (Honorable Mention, 438k, 153d, 43b). Nightingale (164k, 152b) and Aquino (110k, 96b) return their blocking prowess to the net, while Lowe (170k, 38d, 39b) and Reeves (150k, 276d, 37b) add experience to the Bruin offense. Norton (210d) along with prepvolleyball.com’s top-ranked incoming libero Dykstra should hold down UCLA’s back court.

Coach Sealy on the team: “I’m excited about the upcoming season. There are a lot of question marks and a lot of great pieces to put in place, and it will be interesting to see how those pieces are going to fit. I would like to see us compete day in and day out in practice and night in and night out during matches to be as great as we can be, and I would consider that a success.”

Trifecta: Michael Sealy has collected three NCAA Championship titles with the UCLA Bruins: as a player in 1993, a men’s assistant coach in 2006, and the women’s head coach in 2011.

_______________

WASHINGTON

2012 Record: 25-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Jim McLaughlin (376-127; 13 years)
Key Returners: Jenna Orlandini (Sr., DS), Kaleigh Nelson (Jr., OH), Katy Beals (So., S), Cassie Strickland (So., OH), Jenni Nogueras (Sr., S), Krista Vansant (Jr., OH), Kylin Munoz (Sr., OH), Melanie Wade (So., MB), Lianna Sybeldon (So., MB)
Key Losses: Amanda Gil (MB)
Key Newcomers: Carly DeHoog (Fr. OH), Bailey Tanner (Fr., OH), Jade Finau (Fr., S), Justice Magraw (RS Fr., DS)

Notes on Washington: Washington returns nine starters from last year’s 25-7 squad and brings in the No. 10-ranked recruiting class to round out a roster that was already strong. Setters Beals (665a) and Nogueras (620a) return to the lineup after leading Washington’s 6-2 offense to a .251 hitting percentage last season. Orlandini (463d) is also back to defend the hardwood, while Strickland (155k, 254d, 37b) will return to contribute from either the outside or back row. When it comes to offensive production, Washington should be able to rely on middles Wade (.333 efficiency) and Sybeldon (.400 efficiency). Also back is Second Team All-American Vansant (419k, 245d, 81b), an all-around weapon and Washington’s go-to hitter last season.

Coach McLaughlin on the schedule: “Our schedule is going to allow us to stay at home early and get some things in place and maximize our opportunities to train. We’re going to get some good challenges playing at Illinois and playing Canada’s national team here at KeyArena. I think our preseason gets us ready for a very, very tough Pac-12, and we’ll just take it a match at a time.”

Team USA: In July, three former Husky standouts—Jenna Hagglund, Tamari Miyashiro, and Courtney Thompson—helped the U.S. Women’s National Team to a sweep of Japan in the inaugural USA Volleyball Cup.

_______________

IOWA STATE

2012 Record: 22-8
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Christy Johnson-Lynch (172-81; 8 years)
Key Returners: Tenisha Matlock (Sr., MB), Kristen Hahn (Sr., L), Jenelle Hudson (So., S), Mackenzie Bigbee (So., Opp.), Caitlin Nolan (So., DS/L), Victoria Hurtt (Jr., OH), Andie Malloy (So., S/OH)
Key Losses: Alison Landwehr (S), Jamie Straube (MB), Rachel Hockaday (OH)
Key Newcomers: Samara West (Fr., MB), Ciara Capezio (Fr., OH), Maria Fruechte (Fr., OH/MB), Natalie Vondrak (RS Fr., MB), Morgan Kuhrt (RS Fr., OH)

Notes on Iowa State: The Cyclones will need to replace two-time All-American setter Landwehr (1,313a), but with one season under their belts, sophomores Malloy and/or Hudson should be ready to step up. Back to hold down the defense are Nolan (413d) and Second Team All-American Hahn (626d). Iowa State returns three of its four top offensive weapons from last year’s NCAA Regional Semifinalist squad, including Big 12 Freshman of the Year Bigbee (308k, 59d, 51b) and Hurtt (342k, 53d, 39b). The loss of Hockaday (214k, 335d, 19b) and First Team All-Big 12 Straube (239k, 63b) also must be accounted for, but Matlock (234k, 83b) is back to defend the net.

Coach Johnson-Lynch on the schedule: “Our 2013 preseason schedule will be incredibly tough. We’ve always scheduled pretty tough, and it’s paid off for us come NCAA tourney time, so my hope is that although we may take some lumps early on, it will benefit our seeding and prepare us for the Big 12 and for NCAAs.”

Transformation In Cyclone Nation: Since taking over an Iowa State program coming off nine straight losing seasons, Johnson-Lynch has completely turned around Cyclone volleyball and placed them on the map. She has led her teams to the NCAA Tournament in seven of the last eight seasons and is one of just five NCAA DI coaches to lead her teams to the regional semifinals in five of the last six seasons.

_______________

LOUISVILLE

2012 Record: 30-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Anne Kordes (200-88; 9 years)\
Key Returners: Caitlin Welch (Sr., DS/L), Brooke Mattingly (Sr., MB), Hannah Kvitle (Sr., S), Emily Juhl (Sr., OH) Katie George (So., S)
Key Losses: Lola Arslanbekova (OH), Gwen Rucker (MB), Kaitlynn James (OH), Tanya Lukyanenko (OH)
Key Newcomers: Javoni Faucette (Fr., OH), Sydney Cooper (Fr., MB), Brooke Betts (Fr., OH/Opp.), Maya McClendon (Fr., OH), Janelle Jenkins (RS Fr., OH/MB), Randi Ewing (Sr., MB)

Notes on Louisville: The Cardinals return five starters from last season’s 30-4 team, including the setting tandem of George (721a) and Kvitle (691a), who led the Cardinals to a .271 hitting efficiency and a second round appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Louisville will need to replace three of four starting hitters, including Second Team All-American Arslanbekova (596k, 385d, 48b) and Third Team All-American Rucker (282k, 141b). Louisville brings in the No. 22-ranked recruiting class, many of whom could contend for playing time immediately as the Cardinals look for new offensive players to step up. Transfer Ewing is also added into the mix this season. Welch (664d), an Honorable Mention All-American, is back to help keep Kvitle and George in system as they work on connecting with new hitters. Front-row returners Mattingly (209k, 85b) and Juhl (159k, 55d, 67b) will help ease the transition.

Coach Kordes on team: “This team has great ball control, which will allow for both of our setters to run an offense that is unpredictable and balanced. They also possess an intense, competitive spirit that makes them not only a fun team to coach, but an exciting team to watch.”

Home Sweet Home: Anne Kordes is no stranger to Cardinal volleyball. During her playing career at the University of Louisville, Kordes was a three-time All-Conference USA selection and tallied 4,874 assists, 886 digs, and 128 service aces. She’s picking up where she left off as head coach—after two seasons, Kordes has posted an impressive 54-13 record.

_______________

MICHIGAN

2012 Record: 27-12
2012 Postseason: NCAA Semifinals
Head Coach: Mark Rosen (497-214; 21 years)
Key Returners: Lexi Erwin (Sr., OH), Molly Toon (Sr., OH), Jennifer Cross (Sr., MB), Krystalyn Goode (So., MB), Lexi Dannemiller (Jr., S), Tiffany Morales (So., L), Kelly Murphy (So., OH), Ally Sabol (Sr., DS/L)
Key Losses: Claire McElheny (Opp.),
Key Newcomers: Cindy Zhou (Fr., S), Gabbie Bulic (Fr., MB), Abby Cole (Fr., MB)

Notes on Michigan: The Wolverines are back for more after earning a trip to the NCAA Semifinals last season. All of Michigan’s offensive weapons return, including Third Team All-American Cross (379k, 104d, 181b) and Honorable Mention All-American Erwin (614k, 356d, 71b). Dannemiller (1,622a) is back to direct the offense, and Morales (595d), a Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection, will continue to frustrate hitters with her tenacious defense. Add in their No. 25-ranked recruiting class, and the Wolverines are poised to do some serious damage come fall.

Coach Rosen on the team: “I think we have a great group coming back, and it gives us an awesome opportunity to continue the momentum from last year. The thing we’ll have to deal with is expectations. We’re a team that’s older now and has higher expectations, not only externally but internally. We have to manage that, and I think that we’ll do a good job with that, but that’s a big challenge for us. We also have three freshmen coming in that I’m really excited about.”

Post-season surge: Even though the Wolverines finished tied for sixth in the Big Ten, they ended up fifth in the final AVCA poll after a successful run in the NCAA tournament.

_______________

FLORIDA

2012 Record: 27-5
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Mary Wise (767-143; 26 years)
Key Returners: Taylor Unroe (Jr., L/DS), Taylor Brauneis (Sr., S), Ziva Recek (So., OH), Chloe Mann (Sr., MB), Madison Monserez (Jr., DS), Holly Pole (Jr., DS)
Key Losses: Tangerine Wiggs (Opp.), Betsy Smith (MB)
Key Newcomers: Alex Holston (Fr., Opp./S), Denise Belcher (Fr., OH), Shaïnah Joseph (Fr., MB/OH)

Notes on Florida: The Gators return an experienced and talented core from last year’s 27-5 campaign and bring in the No. 27-ranked recruiting class. The return of SEC Player of the Year/First Team All-American Mann (380k, 120b) and AVCA Freshman of the Year/Honorable Mention All-American Recek (440k, 259d, 41b), paired with the return of Honorable Mention All-American setter Brauneis (1247a), should make Florida a daunting force offensively. The loss of Smith (209k, 55d, 77b) and Honorable Mention All-American Wiggs (245k, 29d, 89b) will need to be accounted for, but returning defenders Unroe (484d), Monserez (230d), and Pole (218d) should keep Brauneis in system, giving her offensive options. Noami Santos-Lamb also returns to the mix after taking a medical redshirt last season.

Coach Wise on the team: “Last year’s roster was made up with a majority of players that had never worn the Gator uniform before. We matured into a group that won the SEC and advanced to the NCAA Round of 16. The entire team has been on campus this summer taking advantage of training in the weight room and playing together. We think the three freshmen that started classes in June all have the talents to contribute immediately.”

Wise Beyond Her Years: Mary Wise was just 21 years old when she was named head women’s volleyball coach at Iowa State University, and it has been an impressive ride ever since. Wise has a .898 career winning percentage, the highest in the NCAA since 1991.

_______________

HAWAII

2012 Record: 27-3
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Dave Shoji (1103-184-1; 38 years)
Key Returners: Emily Hartong (Sr., OH), Jade Vorster (So., MB), Kalei Adolpho (Jr., MB), Ashley Kastl (Sr., OH), Mita Uiato (Sr., S), Ali Longo (Sr., L/DS)
Key Losses: Emily Maeda (L/DS), Jane Croson (OH)
Key Newcomers: Kyra Goodman (Fr., S), Tayler Higgins (Fr., S), Nikki Taylor (Fr., OH), Katiana Ponce (Fr., L/DS), Keani Passi (So., OH)

Notes on Hawaii: Hawaii returns all but two players from last season’s NCAA Second Round squad, including two All-Americans: outside Hartong (First Team, 527k, 265d, 76b) and setter Uiato (Honorable Mention, 1180a). Longo (385d) returns to pick up anything that sneaks past the sizeable block of Vorster (226k, 116b) and Adolpho (161k, 101b), while Kastl (158k, 123d, 40b) returns as another veteran attack option. The loss of Croson (319k, 219d, 28b) needs to be contended with, but Hawaii brings in the No. 26-ranked recruiting class to add talent and depth to the roster.

Coach Shoji on the team: “We have a veteran squad with seven seniors and experience at every position. We also have good developing players and an overall well-rounded team with depth at every position.”

All Tied Up: Hawaii’s one recorded tie came in 1978 against Long Beach State when pool-play matches were two sets regardless of whether or not a winner was determined (Hawaii and Long Beach State each took a set).

_______________

BYU

2012 Record: 28-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Shawn Olmstead (49-13; 2 years)
Key Returners: Kimberly Dahl (So., OH), Alexa Gray (So., MB/OH), Jennifer Hamson (Jr., Opp.), Jessica Jardine (Sr., OH), Kathryn LeCheminant (Sr., MB), Ciara Parker (So., L), Tia Withers Welling (Jr., DS/L)
Key Losses: Nicole Warner (MB), Heather Hannemann (S)
Key Newcomers: Camry Godfrey (So., S), Tambre Haddock (Jr., OH), Amy Boswell (Fr., MB/Opp.), Cosy Burnett (Fr., OH), Makenna Santiago (Fr., DS/L), Camille Walker (Fr., OH), Whitney Young (Fr., OH/MB)

Notes on BYU: BYU returns seven contributors from last season’s 28-4 campaign, including All-Americans Gray (Honorable Mention, 365k, 71d, 67b) and Hamson (First Team, 458k, 206d, 141b). A new setter will need to step up and replace Hannemann (1,251a), an Honorable Mention All-American, but returning Parker (385d) and Withers Welling (360d) to the backcourt should ease the transition. BYU also needs to account for the loss of Warner (198k, 202b), but LeCheminant (207k, 113b) returns to guard the net. A large incoming class, tabbed “High Honorable Mention” by prepvolleyball.com, rounds out the Cougar’s talented roster.

Coach Olmstead on the schedule: “We are excited for the upcoming season in the WCC. There is no doubt that our conference will be stronger than it was last year. Each match in the WCC will be an exciting competition. Out of conference, we are going up against great programs and playing against a handful of teams that competed last year in the NCAA tournament.”

Globetrotters: Throughout the program’s history, the team has traveled to 22 different foreign countries.


EMERGING FORCES

_______________

North Carolina

2012 Record: 26-2
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Joe Sagula (650-391; 32 years)
Key Returners: Kayla Berringer (Sr., OH/Opp.), Paige Neuenfeldt (So., MB), Lauren Adkins (Jr., OH), Ece Taner (Jr., DS/L), Chaniel Nelson (RS Jr., Opp.)
Key Losses: Emily McGee (OH), Cora Harms (S)
Key Newcomers: Warner Tidwell (Fr., OH), Jovana Bjelica (Grad., OH), Taylor Treacy (RS Fr., OH/MB), Hayley McCorkle (RS Fr., MB/Opp.), Abigail Curry (Fr., S), Tatiana Durr (Fr., OH/MB)

Notes on North Carolina: North Carolina is a program on the rise, and with 10 returning letter winners and a solid incoming class, the 2013 season should continue the trend. The Tar Heels will need to replace Honorable Mention All-American McGee (321k, 369d, 36b), who led the team in kills last season, along with starting setter Harms (885a). Neunfeldt (277k, 135b) is back as an offensive weapon from the middle, while Nelson (278k, 128d, 123b) and Berringer (278k, 59d, 45b) return to the pins. Defensive standout Taner (484d) rounds out the returning contingency. If North Carolina can find a new setter and terminator from the outside, they should be in good shape to maintain their place on the national radar in 2013.

Coach Sagula on the team: “We have the depth, skill, and talent to put together a very successful 2013 season. The challenge every year is having new players step up to be the leaders on the court, and we’re looking forward to seeing who will do that this year.”

1, 2, Skip 3, 4, 5, 6: This season, the Tar Heels carry one graduate student (Bjelica), two seniors (Anderson, Berringer), four juniors (Adkins, LaReau, Nelson, Taner), five sophomores (Andrew, Gearhart, McPherson, Neunfeldt, Schnabl), and six freshman (Curry, Doyle, McCorkle, Tidwell, Treacy) on their roster.

_______________

KANSAS

2012 Record: 26-7
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Ray Bechard (964-268; 27 years)
Key Returners: Chelsea Albers (Jr., OH), Tiana Dockery (So., OH), Caroline Jarmoc (RS Sr., MB), Erin McNorton (Sr., S), Brianne Riley (Sr., L)
Key Losses: Morgan Boub (DS), Tayler Tolefree (MB)
Key Newcomers: Maggie Anderson (RS Fr., S), Janae Hall (RS Fr., MB), Emma Hanson (Fr., OH), Tayler Soucie (Fr., MB), Cassie Wait (Fr., L/DS)

Notes on Kansas: Kanas is a program with abundant potential, returning a veteran squad and bringing in a talented incoming class. Back for the Jayhawks are five key contributors from last season, including Second Team All-American Jarmoc (424k, 157b) and setter McNorton (11.78 assists per game). Riley (613d), the all-time digs leader at Kansas, is back to command the defense, while Albers (128k, 114d, 58b) and Dockery (162k, 177d, 56b) are back as offensive options. If the Jayhawks can replace the loss of Boub (208d) in the back court and Tolefree (278k, 126b) in the middle, Kansas should continue to work their way up the national rankings.

Coach Bechard on the team: “Everyone that is returning has had a role with us. I would consider us a veteran team, for sure. We’ve got some players who have experience and have had some success. We’re hoping to get another great year with them. With two fifth-year players on the roster and eight seniors total, they’ve been together quite a while. I think that speaks well to the immediate future and what we’re trying to get done.”

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk: Last season was the winningest in Kansas volleyball history. The Jayhawks posted a record-setting .788 winning percentage with their 26-7 record.

_______________

KENTUCKY

2012 Record: 22-11
2012 Postseason: NCAA Regional Semifinals
Head Coach: Craig Skinner (180-76; 8 years)
Key Returners: Whitney Billings (Sr., OH), Jessi Greenberg (Sr., DS/L), Alexandra Morgan (Sr., MB), Jackie Napper (Jr., DS/L), Lauren O’Conner (Jr., OH), Sara Schwarzwalder (So., MB), Morgan Bergren (So., S)
Key Losses: Ashley Frazier (OH), Christine Hartmann (S), Stephanie Klefot (DS/L)
Key Newcomers: Sharay Barnes (Fr., OH/MB), Emily Franklin (Fr., MB), Anni Thomasson (Fr., OH), Kelsey Wolf (RS Fr., DS/L)
Notes on Kentucky: The Wildcats return six starters from last season’s NCAA Regional Semifinalist squad, including Second Team All-American Billings (365k, 335d, 96b). Morgan (283k, 132b), O’Conner (321k, 73d, 62b), and Schwarzwalder (149k, 86b) return, adding more experience and production to the offense, and Bergren will likely be called on to replace Honorable Mention All-Americans setter Hartmann (1202a). Gone are SEC Libero of the Year/Honorable Mention All-American Klefot (481d) and offensive weapon Frazier (357k, 97d, 51b), but Napper (273d) returns to defend the back court. The Wildcats also add the No. 24-ranked recruiting class to the mix, giving them a powerful combination of options and experience.

Coach Skinner on the schedule: “This year’s schedule was designed to challenge us early so we can be our best by the end of the season. We will have several opportunities to compete and win against great teams both in pre-conference and within the SEC.”

The Skinny On Skinner: Since being named head coach in December of 2004, Craig Skinner has led the Wildcats to the NCAA tourney each of the last eight years. Kentucky had endured consecutive losing seasons in the five years prior to his hire. A new six-year contract will keep Skinner at Kentucky through at least 2019.

_______________

FLORIDA STATE

2012 Record: 28-4
2012 Postseason: NCAA Second Round
Head Coach: Chris Poole (680-264; 26 years)
Key Returners: Olivera Medic (Sr., OH), Katie Mosher (RS Jr., L/DS), Ashley Neff (Sr., MB), Sarah Wickstrom (Jr., S), Nicole Walch (So., OH)
Key Losses: Fatma Yildirim (OH), Sareea Freeman (MB), Duygu Duzceler (S)
Key Newcomers: Sarah Burrington (RS Fr., MB), Izzy Carmona (Fr., Opp.), Hailey Luke (Fr., S), Leah Mikesky (RS Fr., OH)

Notes on Florida State: Florida State has three huge holes to fill after the departure of Honorable Mention All-Americans Yildirim (324k, 308d, 44b) and Freeman (268k, 111b) and setter Duzceler (682a) who leaves the lineup after co-setting her team to a .276 hitting percentage. Her counterpart Wickstrom (639a) returns to run the offense. Third Team All-American Medic (266k, 337d, 43b) and Neff (248k, 184b) give the Seminoles a pair of offensive weapons to build around, while Mosher (495d) is back to ground the defense. Sophomore outside Walch showed her potential this spring and could be called on to step up and contend for a starting role this fall.

Coach Poole on the team: “Our team has a lot of potential this season. We had a couple of injuries to key players last year that limited us at times, and we didn’t reach our fullest potential. Anytime you have injuries, it throws off your depth during the season. I’m very excited about this team and believe we should again compete for an ACC Championship and Top-15 Ranking.”

Sister, Sister: The Seminoles carry two pairs of siblings on their roster this season. Twins Caroline and Laura Dadowski are sophomore defensive specialists and Elise Walch is a senior opposite and her younger sister Nicole is an outside.

_______________

DUKE

2012 Record: 15-17
2012 Postseason: N/A
Head Coach: Jolene Nagel (507-278; 25 years)
Key Returners: Jeme Obeime (Jr., OH), Kelsey Williams (Jr., S), Maggie Deichmeister (Jr., S), Ali McCurdy (Sr., DS/L), Chelsea Cook (Sr., MB), Emily Sklar (So., OH), Elizabeth Campbell (So., MB)
Key Losses: Christiana Gray (MB)
Key Newcomers: Jordan Tucker (Fr., MB), Chloe DiPasquale (Fr., DS/L), Alyse Whitaker (Fr., MB), Sasha Karelov (Fr., DS/L)

Notes on Duke: The Blue Devils return seven starters from last season’s squad, including Honorable Mention All-American defender and two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year McCurdy (672d). Both Williams (609a) and Deichmeister (477a) are back to run the offense, while Cook (247k, 140b) and Campbell (296k, 171d, 89b) are back to defend the net. Obeime (320k, 93d, 44b) returns to pace the offense along with outside counterpart Sklar (319k, 235d, 89b). The Blue Devils bring in four incoming freshman to round out the returning lineup. This team could emerge as a force to be reckoned with if they continue to develop, grow as a team, and own their roles on the court.

Coach Nagel on the team: “The 2013 squad has some quality experience in our senior captains Chelsea Cook and Ali McCurdy. They will lead a young team this year with their on-court skill and their team-first attitude. Our European trip in May was an amazing experience. Staying healthy will be an important factor as this team is ready to gel.”

Mapping It Out: The 2013 Duke roster carries 15 players from 10 states: California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, Florida, Kansas, Ohio, Colorado, and yes, North Carolina.

Originally published in October 2013

Add a Comment

You need to log in to comment on this article. No account? No problem!

Advertisements