Aug. 25, 2004
2004 Volleyball Outlook With a new season comes new energy and enthusiasm. After a disappointing outcome in 2003, the team and coaching staff are excited to get back to their rightful place among the premier programs in the Ivy League. The 2004 edition of Brown Volleyball will again be heavily tilted toward youth, with 10 out of 15 players on the roster entering their first or second year with the program. Unlike last season when all of the experience on the team was in the back court, this year's squad will have a more developed group of front row players. There will still be some collegiate inexperience to overcome on the playing side, but this year's team could be a serious contender for an Ivy League Championship. Brown and solid defensive volleyball have gone hand in hand for years, and that will continue in 2004. Last year's team averaged nearly 20 digs per game against Ivy League opposition. This season could be even better. Senior captain Elvina Kung (Dix Hills, NY) will take charge in the back court, most likely taking over the Libero position. Kung only needs 251 digs to reach 1000 for her career, joining the ranks of the Brown elite. Incoming freshman Rachel Lipman (San Diego, CA) possesses strong ball control, and is expected to be an immediate challenger for back row time. Hard-working senior Tanya Rinderknecht (Sancarlos, CA) will also compete for time in the rotation. Setting is also likely to be an area of strength on the 2004 team. For the first time in recent memory, the Bears will have two high-caliber setters on the team. Returning starter Leigh Martin (Freelton, ONT) enters her junior year with two years experience under her belt, and will be more than ready to take charge of the offense once again. She will be challenged by freshman Alanna McDonald (Seattle, WA), who brings loads of passion and intensity, not to mention solid club experience. The competition between Leigh and Alanna will not only push both to be better, but it will help the team develop into a stronger unit as well. The Bears will have exceptional depth in the middle led by sophomores Liz Cvitan (Malibu, CA) and Jessica Kondrick (San Diego, CA), and newcomers Julie Mandolini-Trummel (Crystal Lake, IL) and Lizzie Laundy (Evanston, IL) to create an interesting mixture of talents and styles. Cvitan and Kondrick both saw significant playing time last year, with Cvitan starting the majority of the Bears' matches, but Mandolini-Trummel and Laundy are expected to come in and challenge from the beginning. Mandolini-Trummel brings a bigger net presence, while Laundy offers a great intensity of play and a high level of mobility in the attack. On the right side, left-handed junior Lauren Gibbs (Los Angeles, CA) is one of the most feared attackers and blockers in the Ivy League. She was among the top-10 in the League in kills per game last season, twice getting more than 20 kills in a match, which is high for a right side hitter. Combine Gibbs' unstoppable attack with a fearsome block, that has been known to totally stifle opposing hitters, and you get a truly intimidating force at the net. Sophomore Shawn Tulac (Claremont, CA) will be joining Gibbs on the right side this year, after spending most of last season as an outside hitter. As a right-handed hitter, and one who spent many years in the middle, she offers a different dimension at the net. As much competition as there will be in the other positions, it is on the outside where things will be most hotly contested, with several players gunning for a starting spot. High-flying sophomore Rikki Baldwin (Magnolia, TX) proved at the end of last season that she is going to be one of the scariest attackers in the Ivy League. Her average of better than five kills per game over the final five matches of the 2003 season (including 24 kills in three games at Harvard) caught the attention of coaches around the League. Sophomore Victoria Kasten (Norwalk, OH) proved a more than able back row player in a primarily defensive role last year, and will be looking to take a step up and become a consistent contributor at the net as well. Incoming freshman Katie Lapinski (Niles, IL), who is agile and aggressive in the back row, can also contribute on the attacking side as well.