2010 CAC Volleyball Preview
York, Pa. - The Capital Athletic Conference has never sent two volleyball teams to the NCAA Tournament in the same season. But in 2010, the CAC boasts two teams vying for a conference crown that have advanced to the national championship in each of the past three seasons.
Salisbury is the three-time defending CAC Champion and has reached the 30-win plateau in each of the past two seasons. The Sea Gulls, who have won six CAC titles in the last 12 years, battled down to the wire before dropping a 3-2 decision in the 2009 NCAA regional championship match.
Mary Washington and St. Mary's have been top challengers in the past few years. But the CAC added another "heavyweight" to the conference for the 2010 season with the addition of Frostburg State University as a full member.
FSU has also advanced to the NCAA championship tournament in each of the past three seasons. Coach Peter Letourneau was the 2009 AVCA Regional Coach of the Year and boasts a lineup that should challenge the perennial CAC powerhouse teams.
The 2010 season starts with five non-conference matches on September 1, and all nine CAC teams are in action in tournaments on Labor Day weekend. The first of 36 conference matches is slated for September 14, when Salisbury visits St. Mary's to begin a run for six conference tournament berths. The 2010 CAC Champion is slated to be determined on Saturday, November 6.
St. Mary's seventh-year head coach Morris Davis expects to have his troops back in the hunt for the CAC championship title this fall as the Seahawks return a strong veteran core led by the team's two seniors, Claire Kodan, a three-time All-CAC honoree, and Katie Obal. Kodan (3.50 kills/set) and Gena Hlavinka (2.14 kills/set) will help the Seahawks at the net offensively as well as defensively as the duo combined for 127 total blocks a year ago.
The Seahawks will kick off the 2010 campaign Labor Day weekend with a tri-match at Randolph-Macon College, the reigning Old Dominion Athletic Conference champions. St. Mary's will face Randolph-Macon first at 11:00 am before taking on N.C. Wesleyan College at 1:00 pm.
Here is a look at the other eight CAC teams heading into the 2010 campaign:
Fresh off its third-consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament, the FROSTBURG STATE volleyball team will look to carry that momentum into its first season in the CAC. Peter Letourneau, the reigning American Volleyball Coaches Association Mid-Atlantic Region Coach of the Year, returns eight players and a pair of all-conference selections this fall. Two-time all-conference first team honoree Sarah Stephens enters the season fifth in school history in career kills (1,083) and should take over as the team's top hitter. The Bobcats finished 30-5 in 2009, eclipsing the 30-win plateau for the seventh time in the program's 16-year history.
HOOD second-year head coach Jaime Pryor has brought in eight recruits to bolster her lineup and complement her corps of four key returners. In 2009, senior Chelsea Weaver ranked among the CAC leaders in digs and service aces while classmate Kristina Straub is listed among Hood's all-time leaders in kills, assists and blocks.
All-CAC selection Christina LaVigna graduated in the spring after leading MARYMOUNT in nearly every category. The 2010 squad will be looking for new statistical leaders. The only returning senior is libero, Chelsea Gates. The rest of the starting returners from 2009 will be sophomore hitters, Sharda Braxton and Michelle McCormack and setter, Melissa Warren.
The 2010 Mary Washington volleyball team enters the fall with great promise, as the Eagles return eight key contributors from last season's 18-11 team that finished second in the Capital Athletic Conference standings. Leading the way for UMW is junior setter Katie Shiflett, who gained CAC Rookie of the Year honors in 2008 and is already among the school's all-time top 10 in career assists. Along the net, the Eagles welcome back a host of talented players, including the reigning CAC Rookie of the Year in Laura Gomez, who had 210 kills a year ago, and junior outside hitter Tola Adebanjo, who missed much of last year with a knee injury.
SALISBURY is looking to build off of a season in which they fell one victory short of reaching the program's first appearance in the NCAA quarterfinals. SU will rely upon senior outside hitter Lexy Fitzkee and senior libero Melissa Stansbury to lead the Gulls to their seventh CAC tournament championship.
STEVENSON is looking to return to its form from 2008 when the team won a school-record 32 games and finished third in the CAC. The Mustangs posted 13 wins during a rebuilding year in 2009 in which 10 of their 13 players were either freshmen or sophomore. Stevenson (13-20, 2-6 in 2009) returns All-CAC Second Team selection, senior Alex Mercer as well sophomore Avery Gabbard who led the team in kills, finished second in digs and third in blocks.
WESLEY enters its fifth varsity season in 2010, looking to improve upon last year's eight win campaign. Sophomore Carle Ax and junior Kristen Roberts lead a cast of 14 returners for third year head coach Gerry Szabo.
YORK enters 2010 as a seasoned group. The Spartans return all six starters from an 18-win squad led by senior first-team All-CAC selection Alysse Beshore, who led the CAC with a .322 attack percentage, tying a Spartan school record. Also returning to the line up is 2008 All-CAC pick Alishia Waltermyer, junior co-captain Heather Bucher, junior co-captain Cortni Rentzel, junior Julie Coombs and sophomores Ashley Rineman and Melissa Patterson. Spartan head coach Sue DuMars welcomes in a large class of newcomers as some of those new Spartans will be expected to contribute on the floor in 2010.