Monika Smidova, American
August 22, 2014
CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - American, which advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Women's Volleyball Tournament in 2013, topped the preseason volleyball poll Friday 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, Eagles senior setter Monika Smidova was named the Preseason Player of the Year and garnered one of seven places on the Preseason All-League squad. Smidova is joined by senior teammates Kristyna Lindovska, an outside hitter, and Kelly McCaddin, a middle blocker. Rounding out the squad are Army sophomore middle blocker Olivia Fairfield, Bucknell junior middle blocker Karen Campbell, Colgate senior middle blocker Diane Seely and Lehigh senior outside hitter Jade Van Streepen.
The Eagles secured 128 points and 16 first-place votes to claim the poll's top spot. Colgate picked up the remaining two first place votes and 104 points to finish just ahead of Army (102). The rest of the poll order was Lehigh (85), Navy (81), Loyola (52), Bucknell (41), Holy Cross (29) and Lafayette (26).
Smidova is coming off a junior campaign in which she was named to the All-Patriot League first team and earned League Setter of the Year honors. She ranked 21st in the country in aces per set (0.42) and her 10.8 assists per set was good for 10th in single season program history. Smidova was also the Patriot League Scholar-Athlete for Women's Volleyball and an ECAC first team All-Star.
American (34-3, 15-1 Patriot) set a Patriot League record with 34 victories and became the first League program to advance to the third round of the NCAA Women's Volleyball tournament with 3-0 wins over Georgia Tech and Duke. In addition to Smidova, Lindovska and McCaddin the Eagles return also senior libero Megan Rosburg and junior outside hitter Allison Cappellino. McCaddin led the Patriot League in hitting percentage (.406), Lindovska in kills (3.56/set) and Smidova in assists (10.8/set).
Patriot League tournament finalist Colgate (22-9, 13-3) welcomes back Seely, the reigning Patriot League Player of the Year, but graduated five players who saw significant court time. Returning are senior Kenzie Hume who started 25 matches as a junior and sophomore outside hitter Kathleen Harris who started 30 matches as a freshman and was second to Seely in most offensive categories a year ago.
Army (14-13, 11-5) graduated a pair of All-League players, but brings back 2013 Rookie of the Year Olivia Fairfield, who was also named to the Patriot League second team as a freshman, juniors Nicole Perri and Vanessa Edwards and seniors Deana Dalton and Molly McDonald. The Black Knights also welcome a large, highly regarded recruiting class that was ranked nationally by prep volleyball publications.
Lehigh (20-9, 11-5) won 20 games for the first time since the 2002 season and reached the Patriot League Tournament for the third straight season under Coach Bob Bertucci. The Mountain Hawks lost first team All-League performer Rachel Charles to graduation, but return second team member Jade Van Streepen who led the team in kills (291) and tallied an impressive 3.23 kills per set average that ranked fourth in the league.
A young Navy (13-16, 9-7) roster has only one senior but coach Larry Bock hopes that the Mids can continue an upward trajectory and land a spot in the Patriot League postseason. Senior Alex Cassel and junior Katie Sylakowski, a pair of middle hitters, return after combining for more than four kills per set a year ago.
Loyola Maryland (8-20, 5-11) will seek to pick up where it left off at the tail end of the 2013 season after winning three of its final four games, including a five-set thriller at Army. Senior middle blocker Mindy Maloney returns for the Greyhounds after ranking in the top five in both blocks (.94/set) and hitting percentage (.316) as a junior.
Junior Karen Campbell (.312, 91 blocks) landed a spot on the preseason All-Patriot League team following a solid sophomore season for Bucknell (10-16, 3-13). The Bison have just one senior (Kadri Lutter) on their roster this year, but sophomore Erika Eastley, junior Katie Price and sophomore Keane Brazda all saw significant time as underclassmen along with Campbell.
Holy Cross (7-21, 2-14) received much production from its freshman class a year ago led by outside hitter Mandy Sifferlen, libero Emily Popp and setter Katie McKernan. Popp was fourth in the Patriot League in digs per set (4.56) and McKernan recorded the most service aces per set (.048) and was eighth in assists per set (7.05).
Junior Lauren Pisauro led the Patriot League with 4.82 digs per set during the 2013 campaign for Lafayette (11-16, 3-13). Expect Pisauro, seniors Katy Rooney and Danielle Towslee, junior Brianne Giangiobbe and sophomore Jet Manzi to be fixtures on the court as the Leopards try to reach the Patriot League Tournament for the first time since 2006.
The season begins Friday, Aug. 29 with all nine Patriot League teams in action. American will participate in the D.C. Invitational, Army is at the Hampton Inn-vitational, Bucknell will be in the Titan Classic, Colgate is hosting Niagara, Holy Cross is in the BC Invitational, Lafayette is at the Hofstra Invitational, Lehigh is in the Buffalo Tournament, Loyola is in the La Salle Invitational and Navy will host its annual Kristen Dickmann Invitational.
The top four teams in the regular season standings will qualify for the 2014 Patriot League Tournament, set for Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 22-23, with the No. 1 seed hosting the semifinals and championship. The winner earns an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.
Patriot League Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll
1. American - 128 (16 first place votes)
2. Colgate - Colgate 104 (2)
3. Army - 102
4. Lehigh - 85
5. Navy - 81
6. Loyola - 52
7. Bucknell - 41
8. Holy Cross - 29
9. Lafayette - 26
Preseason All-Patriot League Team
Monika Smidova, American, Sr., S
Kristyna Lindovska, American, Sr., OH
Kelly McCaddin, American, Sr., MB
Olivia Fairfield, Army, So., MB
Karen Campbell, Bucknell, Jr., MB
Diane Seely, Colgate, Sr., MB
Jade Van Streepen, Lehigh, Sr., OH
Preseason Player of the Year - Monika Smidova, American, Sr., S