Aug 21, 2013
Team Information Page;
2013 Record Book
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. – American, which captured 10 Patriot League Championships from 2001-11, topped the preseason volleyball poll Wednesday in voting conducted by the League’s head coaches and sports information directors who could not cast a ballot for their own schools or student-athletes.
In addition, Army senior outside hitter Margaux Jarka was named the Preseason Player of the Year and garnered one of seven places on the Preseason All-League squad.
The Eagles secured 119 points and eight first-place votes to claim the poll’s top spot. With 112 points and five first-place votes, Army edged defending champion Colgate (111 points, five first-place votes) for second in the preseason prediction. Lehigh secured fourth with 78 points, just ahead of fifth-place Navy with 76.
Patriot League newcomer Loyola Maryland settled into the sixth position with 52 points, with Bucknell (50), Holy Cross (28) and Lafayette (22) rounding out the field of nine.
Jarka is coming off a junior campaign in which she was named to the All-Patriot League second team. She played in all 103 sets for Army and hit .167 while averaging 2.78 kills and 2.47 digs per set. She pitched in defensively with 30 blocks and served up 15 aces. She placed second on the Black Knights with 286 kills behind graduated Player of the Year Ariana Mankus. The 5-foot-11 senior outside hitter, who was a member of the 2011 Patriot League All-Tournament Team, will serve as team captain this fall.
Any discussion about Patriot League volleyball over the last decade-plus always starts with American
(21-10, 11-3 Patriot), which advanced to the familiar territory of the League title match a season ago. The ending did not play out as the Eagles would have liked when they fell in five sets at top-seeded Colgate. The last time the Eagles were held off for the League crown was by Army in 2009. American responded by winning the next two championships, and posted a perfect 14-0 League campaign in 2010. Senior middle blocker Morgan Hendrix (.286, 1.63 kps, 1.34 bps) is back after a first-team All-League campaign, as are senior setter Kylann Scheidt (8.72 aps) and sophomore libero Allison Cappellino (3.83 dps). Head coach Barry Goldberg enters his 25th season at American with 589 career victories.
Despite Mankus’ graduation, Army (20-9, 11-3) returns plenty of talent from a 20-win team that is seeking its first League crown in four years. In addition to Jarka, reigning Setter of the Year Mary Vaccaro (9.55 aps), a junior and a Preseason All-League pick, will once again distribute the ball, while senior libero D.J. Phee (5.60 dps) looks to improve upon her 577 total digs from a year ago. Sophomore middle blocker Zoe Kreitenberg is coming off a strong rookie showing in which she hit .287 and averaged 2.02 kills per set. Alma Kovaci will be in her seventh season as head coach at West Point.
Defending champion Colgate (17-14, 12-2) is in a strong position to once again sit atop the League when all is said and done. The Raiders boast four returning All-Leaguers from last season with two – seniors Kaylee Fifer and Lindsay Young – being named Preseason All-League selections. The offense runs through Fifer (7.32 aps), who also hit .241 and averaged 2.41 digs and nearly one kill per set, while Young (.192, 2.86 kps, 1.53 dps) and junior Diane Seely (.224, 2.39 kps) provide the firepower. Most Colgate points begin with a stop by senior libero Caitlin Cremin, who averaged just under four digs per set a year ago. Eighth-year head coach Ryan Baker has put together a non-League schedule that includes five NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago.
Lehigh (12-14, 8-6) reached the Patriot League Tournament in back-to-back years for the first time since 2003. It’s that kind of consistent inclusion in the postseason that Lehigh was looking for when it hired Bob Bertucci in 2011. Now entering his third season in Bethlehem, Pa., Bertucci and the Mountain Hawks are looking to take the next step and capture the program’s first League title since 1997. Reigning two-time Libero of the Year senior Rachel Charles (4.98 dps) and senior middle blocker (.229, 2.82 kps, 48 blocks), both Preseason All-League picks, will be big parts of any Lehigh success this season. Senior Dana Raber (6.02 aps) and sophomore Amy Matula (4.71 aps) shared the dishing duties in 2012.
Navy (11-15, 7-7) came within a whisker of the League Tournament last year, a place the program hasn’t been since 2007. The Mids look to make a hard run at snapping that drought this fall with senior Preseason All-League pick Erin Fortner, who averaged 3.36 kills and 1.78 digs per set in earning a first-team All-League laurel in 2012. Alex Karika’s emergence as one of the League’s premier setters (9.84 aps) during her Rookie of the Year campaign also bodes well for Navy’s future. The roster is also filled with plenty of young players – just four of the 18 are juniors or seniors. Sophomores and incoming freshmen will play key roles in how far Navy’s trajectory goes this fall under third-year head coach Larry Bock, the NCAA leader in victories.
Newcomer Loyola Maryland (13-15, 6-11 MAAC) jumps into the Patriot League fray for the first time this fall and looks to get acquainted quickly. The Greyhounds improved by five wins last season and third-year head coach Jake Lawrence is seeking a fast acclimation to the League’s postseason fray. How far Loyola goes this season starts with seniors Jac Bullock (.337, 3.15 kps, 80 blocks), a second-team all-conference pick in 2012, and Faye Lukas (.168, 3.61 kps, 1.89 dps). Lauren Anderson averaged 10.07 assists per frame last season, while Mindy Maloney hit .271 with 79 blocks in the middle. Both are juniors this fall.
2013 will be the Anna Allison’s ninth on the Bucknell (9-20, 3-11) sidelines and her first as head coach after eight as the program’s top assistant. The Bison have qualified for the League Tournament twice in the last six seasons and hope this fall marks a return for the first time since 2010. Sophomore Karen Campbell (.231, 1.62 kps, 106 blocks) played in all 107 sets last year, and senior Morgan Mientus (3.36 dps) saw action in all but one frame. The roster boasts seven seniors who will shepherd the program with Allison into a new era.
There will be some new faces on the floor for Holy Cross (3-27, 2-12) this season. Four-year starters outside hitter Megan Lynch and libero Elizabeth Watters have graduated, so there will be plenty of chances for players to step into critical roles on a roster that features one senior and seven juniors. Emily Oliver paced the Crusaders a year ago as a rookie when she hit .198 and averaged 1.85 kills per set, and she will join junior Alicia Swearingen (2.21 kps, .175) in taking over some of the striking. Junior Hannah Grace Stokes (5.56 aps) is the team’s top returning distributor.
2012 was a tale of two seasons for Lafayette (9-17, 2-12). The Leopards opened the year with five straight victories and six in their first seven outings, but dropped 13 of their last 14 after a four-set win over Bucknell in the League opener. Two seniors dot a roster that is hungry to turn fortunes around in 2013. Senior Karissa Ciliento (.107, 2.39 kps, 2.48 dps), and juniors Danielle Towslee (.194, 1.83 kps, 82 blocks) and Katy Rooney (.175, 1.23 kps, 70 blocks) hope to lead a resurgence in Easton, Pa. The Leopards are aiming to make the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2006.
The season begins Friday, Aug. 30 with six teams opening and four at home. American battles Howard in Fairfax, Va., at 5 p.m. in the D.C. Volleyball Challenge, while five teams are set for 7 p.m. battles. Loyola Maryland ventures to Boone, N.C., and opens at Appalachian State. Colgate starts preparing for its League crown defense by hosting Central Connecticut in the Colgate Classic, Lehigh welcomes New Hampshire in the opener of the Lehigh Classic, Holy Cross welcomes Sacred Heart in the Crusader Classic and Navy will battle UNC Wilmington in its own Kristen Dickmann Invitational.
Army’s season opens Saturday, Aug. 31 with a 10 a.m. match against Seton Hall at West Point in the Black Knight Invitational. Bucknell heads to Philadelphia where it takes on Sacramento State to start a tournament hosted by La Salle. Lafayette will take part in that same tournament and is scheduled to battle Sacramento State at 2 p.m.
The top four teams in the regular season standings will qualify for the 2013 Patriot League Tournament, set for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 23-24, with the No. 1 seed hosting the semifinals and championship. The winner earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
2013 Preseason Poll
1. American – 119 points (8 first-place votes)
2. Army – 112 (5)
3. Colgate – 111 (5)
4. Lehigh – 78
5. Navy – 76
6. Loyola – 52
7. Bucknell – 50
8. Holy Cross – 28
9. Lafayette – 22
Preseason All-League Team
Margaux Jarka, Army, Sr., OH
Mary Vaccaro, Army, Jr., S
Kaylee Fifer, Colgate, Sr., S
Lindsay Young, Colgate, Sr., OH
Rachel Charles, Lehigh, Sr., L
Amanda Clark, Lehigh, Sr., MB
Erin Fortner, Navy, Sr., OH
Preseason Player of the Year – Margaux Jarka, Army, Sr., OH