Aug. 25, 2008
Providence, RI - Coming off a challenging 2007 season in which they finished 7-17 overall and 5-9 in the Ivy League, the volleyball team will be looking to rebound in 2008. With a young squad that will be hungry to establish themselves as a contender this season, head coach Diane Short should be able to bring some buzz back to the Pizz.
Although they will be starting later than many other teams because of Ivy regulations, Short is confident that the team will be able to get off to a good start regardless. After competing in the Georgetown Classic, which should be a good measuring point for the Bears, the team will return home to host the Brown Invitational. Stony Brook, Quinnipiac, and in-state rival Bryant College will be traveling to Providence to take part in the tournament, which Short believes could be an early season victory for her team. Brown will then wrap up its non-league schedule by playing in the Stony Brook Invitational against St. Francis, Stony Brook, and Xavier before diving into the challenging Ivy League slate. The key league games loom as road trips to perennial powers Penn and Princeton to finish out the season. Wins there could help the Bears into a postseason berth as one of the top Ivy teams.
Libero should be a competitive position for the Bears, as junior Kim Bundick will battle newcomer Annika Gliottone for the starting role. Though it will be something of a question mark, as neither player has significant experience at the collegiate level, having two talented players pushing each other in practice should lead to good results. Freshman Jessica Gandy could also see some time as the defensive specialist.
This should be one of the most reliable positions for the Bears, as they have a wealth of experience and talent. Although only a sophomore, Megan Toman should set the tone here, coming off a rookie season in which she led the team in kills with nearly 4 per game.
"I'm really looking forward to Megan coming into her own this season," Short said. "I think that she's going to come out with a lot of confidence and really play well."
Vying for playing time behind Toman will be sophomore Annie Matusewicz and junior Lyndse Yess, who played in 23 matches last season. Junior Moira Gallagher will also be an important presence bringing positive energy off the bench and providing a spark for the team when needed.
Though there is not as much experience at right side as at other positions, there is a tremendous amount of raw talent here for the Bears. Sophomore Brianna Williamson is the favorite to win the starting role, and comes off a rookie season in which she averaged almost 2.5 kills per game in limited action. If she can maintain that pace in a more prominent role Williamson could end up playing a major role in 2008. Junior Liz Mueller will also get some time at right side, where she can provide a steady, veteran presence. Two intriguing newcomers could also shake up the position as the season goes on. Freshman Laura Casselberry is rehabbing from jaw surgery, but once she gets on the court she has the potential to earn some time. Six foot three junior Lindsay Walls is a newcomer to the team and needs to develop her skills, but has the physical ability to be a major contributor by the end of the season.
Setter may be the deepest position for Short and the Bears, headlined by senior captain Natalie Meyers, who is entering her third year as a starter. Last season Meyers played in all 92 games while providing more than 11.5 assists per game. Behind her are junior Kate Jacobs and freshman Spencer McAndrews, who will compete for the backup role and are each capable of carrying the team for stretches when Meyers is on the bench.
The middle will again be a strong position for Brown, led by sophomore Danielle Vaughan, who was third on the team in kills last season and finished tied for the best kill percentage. She was also one of only three players to appear in all 92 games in 2007. Providing depth behind Vaughan will be junior Ann Cowell, who played in 12 games last season, and newcomer Laurielle Hofer.
Though 2007 was a tough season for the Bears in the standings, it did provide an opportunity for many of the younger players to gain valuable experience, something which should serve the team well both this season and in those to come. The desire to get better has also bonded the team together, providing for a closer squad than in years past.
"This team has some of the best chemistry of any I've coached," Short said. "Last year we had good chemistry too, but this year I think it's even better. We have some good leaders and I think that everyone is on the same page. We are definitely going to be stronger this season."
"Some of our players worked really hard in the offseason to get better, and it already shows just in the first few days of practice," assistant coach Scott Blanchard added. "There are going to be some battles at a few positions, and that competition is really going to drive us and make this a better team by the end of the season."