Aug. 17, 2001
With the entire starting lineup from 2000 returning for the 2001 season, the Bears are looking forward to one of the best seasons in recent history.
Having made the NCAA Tournament two times in the last five years, Brown's senior class has NCAA experience and the talent to lead this young team to an Ivy Championship.
With the return of senior Corre Myer and sophomore Leslie Meller, who shared the setting responsibilities last season, the Brown offense remains in good hands.
An experienced setter whose 2000 season was cut short due to a knee injury, Myer returns healthy and should resume the starting position. A three-time captain, Myer has taken Brown on her shoulders since her freshman season and is a player who makes deceptive sets and thrives on competition. In just the third match of 2000, she broke the Brown record for career assists, and with an entire season ahead of her she could break the 4,000 mark for career assists as she enters the season with 2,912.
Meller, who gained valuable experience as a rookie, will challenge Myer. Meller's role became increasingly important as the season progressed. With Myer injured, she made her collegiate start against Fairfield and registered 27 assists. Meller recorded a career-high 74 at Northeastern, third best at Brown for assists in a match, to go with a career-high-tying 19 digs. A versatile athlete, Meller is also strong defensively. She finished with 464 assists, 10.31 per game, and averaged 2.84 digs per game on the season, fourth on the team.
Newcomer Courtney Hull, who is both a setter and an outside hitter, should challenge both Myer and Meller, and be available to give the duo a needed break.
Perhaps the biggest offensive strength of this year's squad is the middle blockers. The junior duo of Jessie Cooper and two-time co-captain Aneal Helms returns to shut down the opponents' attack, while bringing to the lineup excitement with the quick kill. Cooper, the most consistent player on the 2000 squad, led the team in both hitting percentage and blocks. Her .268 hitting percentage was 8th in the Ivy League, while she had a team-high 82 blocks, 11th in the League. With 171 career blocks, and 2.36 kills per game, Cooper is on track to become one of the most commanding middle blockers in Brown's history. A 2000 Academic All-Ivy Selection, she posted a career-high 18 kills at Penn and had a career-best .692 hitting percentage (10-1-13) against Vermont. An All-Tournament selection at the UConn invitational, Cooper brings experience and leadership.
Helms, who will be serving her second year as a co-captain for the Bears, finished last season with 2.77 kills per game, third on the team, and was second on the team with a .231 hitting percentage and 63 blocks. She was named MVP of the Holiday Inn Express Tournament at Stony Brook, after helping the Bears to the Tournament title. She tied her career-high 22 kills in Brown's 3-2 victory over Cornell in the Ivy opener and also posted a new career-best nine total blocks against Vermont.
Cooper and Helms will get help from sophomore Adriana Lopez, who has a year of junior varsity experience under her belt. A versatile player, who can also assume a position on the outside, Lopez is a hard worker who should see considerable time this season.
In addition to Lopez and fellow JV player junior Alexis Malepeai on the outside, five varsity players return to the outside hitting position. Senior Miranda Turner, juniors Ceneca Calvert and Angela Dunn, and sophomores Diane Schneider all return, adding talent and depth to this position.
A Second Team All-Ivy selection and one-time Player of the Week as a rookie, Schneider is a powerful hitter who led the team with 3.71 kills per game, 4th in the Ivy League. One of just two players to play in all 91 games, Schneider also was one of the top blockers on the team with 49, as well as a defensive power with 2.71 digs per game. She also led the team with 22 service aces. A two-time All-Tournament selection in 2000, she pounded a career-high 26 kills against Boston College and had a career-best 24 digs against Dartmouth. With 341 kills, Schneider has the potential to be one of the top outside hitters in Brown History.
A hard hitter, Dunn, who averaged 2.94 kills per game, second on the team, has experience and leadership qualities that will help the Bears to become one of the top programs in the League again. Her best outing last season came at Northeastern when she posted 25 kills on 82 attempts and added 25 digs, all career-highs.
Calvert, who is also one of Brown's top returnees on defense, had 2.10 kills per game last season and led the team with 2.95 digs per game, 11th in the Ivy League. She pounded a career-high 22 kills in the Bears' 3-2 victory over Northeastern and should continue to produce this season.
Turner saw action mostly in a reserve role last season and will add depth to the lineup this year.
In addition, two new faces join this group of talented veterans, Hull, who is also a setter, and Elvina Kung, who plays mostly outside.
While Brown's high-powered offense may get the recognition, it is the experienced defense that will win matches for the Bears. Led by senior Laura Wells, who is well-respected for her heart and hustle, the defensive specialists make certain that few balls touch the floor. Brown's top-returning primary passer, with 2.90 digs per game, Wells also stepped into the setting role last season while Myer was injured and amassed 154 assists, third on the team. In addition, she is also one of Brown's top servers, finishing with 20 aces, second on the squad.
Sophomore Kim Highlund joins Schneider as the only athletes to play in all 91 games. She gained tremendous experience as a rookie, finishing with 1.98 digs per game.
Wells and Highlund will also have help from Malepeai, who in addition to being an outside hitter, will add depth to the defense.