Aug. 23, 2011
2011 Composite Schedule
Team Information Pages
CENTER VALLEY, Pa.-- A year after running the table in the Patriot League, winning 29 matches and narrowly falling in five sets to UCLA in the NCAA Tournament, American claimed the No. 1 spot in the League's preseason poll, it was announced Wednesday afternoon. With the maximum 98 points and 14 first-place votes, the Eagles are the overwhelming favorite to repeat as League champions in 2011.
Voting was done by the League's head volleyball coaches and sports information directors who could not cast a ballot for their own squads.
In addition to the preseason poll, the Patriot League has made available a team information page that includes links to pertinent information for each of the eight teams. Links include schedules, rosters, news and statistics. The team information page is available on the sidebar on the right side of the volleyball homepage, or can be reached by clicking here.
American was trailed in the poll by 2009 League champion Army, which captured 83 points. The two remaining first-place votes went to 2010 runner-up Colgate, which finished third in the balloting with 73 points. Bucknell captured fourth with 57 points, followed very closely by Lehigh in fifth with 56 points. The poll was rounded out by Navy in sixth (34 points), Holy Cross in seventh (28) and Lafayette in eighth (19).
American comes off a most impressive season that saw the Eagles finish 29-3 overall. The win total was one shy of the League record of 30 set in 1990 by Army, but the Eagles did set a League mark with 23 straight victories that ended with their narrow 3-2 loss to UCLA in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Reigning Coach of the Year Barry Goldberg enters his 23rd season at the helm in the nation's capital with a young roster. Of the 14 student-athletes on the team, 12 are either freshmen or sophomores. Seniors Alexandra Hammer and Rebecca Heath look to provide leadership, while sophomore Juliana Crum hit .265 with 156 kills in 81 sets a year ago.
To listen to a preseason interview with coach Goldberg, click here.
Army finished 11-3 in League play in 2010 and went 18-14 overall after falling in the semifinals of the League tournament to Colgate. The Black Knights, who snapped American's run of eight straight League crowns by winning the title in 2009, look to regain their championship form this season with a pair of seniors on the roster in Fabiola Castro and Rachel Willis. The team boasts the always dangerous junior outside hitter Ariana Mankus, the 2009 League Player and Rookie of the Year, who hit .204 with 339 kills and 319 digs last season. Last season's Rookie of the Year Megan Wilton hit .245 with a team-best 90 blocks during her freshman campaign.
For preseason comments from head coach Alma Kovaci, who enters her fifth season at West Point, click here.
Colgate made its way to the League title match for the third time in the last four years, and sixth-year head coach Ryan Baker looks to bring the Raiders over the hump in 2011. The Raiders finished third in the League with a 10-4 mark and 18-12 overall and return a pair of All-League selections from last year in seniors Maureen Colligan and Kaylee Daugherty. Colligan was seventh in the League averaging 2.66 kills per set, while sophomore Kaylee Fifer had a strong freshman campaign finishing sixth averaging almost six assists per frame.
To listen to a preseason interview with coach Baker, click here.
Bucknell posted an 8-6 mark against League competition to grab the fourth seed in the League tournament by one game over Lehigh. Cindy Opalski returns as head coach for her 22nd season in Lewisburg, and her team boasts one of the deepest senior classes in the League this year with five members. The Bison graduated First-Team All-League middle hitter Heidi Kamp in the spring, but several upperclassmen are prepared to assume big roles this season. Junior Kat Tauscher averaged 3.53 assists per set in 2010, while senior outside hitter Katie Baumgarten (154 kills, 148 digs) and senior libero Emily Sawanobori (160 digs, 1.84 digs per set) look to anchor the striking and defense.
For preseason comments from coach Opalski, click here.
Lehigh is one of three League teams with a new voice on the sidelines. Bob Bertucci is in his first year as the head coach in Bethlehem after spending the last 16 seasons at Temple. He takes over a squad that returns junior All-League selection Taylor Poole, who was second in the League with a .328 hitting percentage, ninth with 2.44 kills and 10th with 0.77 blocks per set a year ago. The Mountain Hawks, who went 13-13 overall and 7-7 in the League, bring back a pair of seniors in setter Jessica Kudirka and outside hitter Angelika Kopacz.
To listen to preseason comments from coach Bertucci, click here.
Navy is the second program with a new head coach, and it's one of the biggest names in the sport of volleyball. Larry Bock enters his first season in Annapolis after compiling a 1,352-283-4 record in 40 seasons, which includes 34 as the head coach of the women's team at Juniata. He oversees a balanced roster, with juniors and seniors occupying eight of the 16 slots. Senior Maida Kalic' posted the League's 10th-highest hitting percentage (.250) and classmate Holly Berger was fourth averaging 3.68 digs per set. Sophomore Erin Fortner emerged as perhaps the team's most versatile player, leading the Mids with 253 kills while her 438 assists were second and her 214 digs were third. Navy will look to rebound from a 7-23 season and a 1-13 mark against League teams.
Click here for a preseason interview with coach Bock.
The third League team under new stewardship in 2011 is Holy Cross. Erin Walker enters her first season as the head coach of the Crusaders after serving as an assistant on the coaching staff last season. 2010 was a year of improvement for Holy Cross, which posted 12 wins for the most victories since 2000, while the team's four League triumphs was the most in six years. Junior outside hitter Megan Lynch hopes to build on a successful season a year ago in which she was named to the All-League Second Team. She led the League with 442 total kills and was third with 3.59 per set.
To hear a preseason interview with coach Walker, click here.
Lafayette hopes to bounce back from a 2010 campaign in which it went 1-13 in League play and 5-23 overall. Terri Dadio Campbell enters her 10th season as the head coach at her alma mater. Alana Taylor, who sits seventh all-time in school history with 178 blocks, leads a class of three seniors providing leadership for the Leopards in 2011. Junior setter Sarah Frohnapfel finished with the League's fourth-highest assists-per-set average at 7.06 last season, while sophomore Karissa Ciliento was in the League's top 10 averaging 0.33 aces per set.
Click here for preseason comments from coach Dadio Campbell.
The 2011 season gets underway Friday with American, Army, Bucknell, Colgate, Holy Cross and Navy in tournament action. Matches get underway at noon with Holy Cross hosting Fairleigh Dickinson in the Beanpot Classic and Army entertaining Hartford in the Army Invitational. The eight teams will combine to play 19 matches on Friday and Saturday. Lafayette and Lehigh will begin their seasons Aug. 30.
2011 Patriot League Preseason Volleyball Poll
American - 98 points (14 first-place votes)
Army - 83
Colgate - 73 (2)
Bucknell - 57
Lehigh - 56
Navy - 34
Holy Cross - 28
Lafayette - 19