September 6, 2006

2006 Volleyball Season Outlook

Sept. 6, 2006

Providence, RI - Last season, the Brown volleyball team experienced a resurgence, finishing 12-13 overall and 9-5 in the Ivy League, taking third place in the Ivy League. It was the team's best Ivy finish since the 2001 season. Now, Head Coach Diane Short and her squad hope to ride that momentum towards an Ivy League championship, working new players into a lineup that returns many talented veterans.

Junior Julie Mandolini-Trummel (Crystal Lake, IL) returns from a dominating sophomore season in the middle that earned her first team All-Ivy honors. She led the team with a .333 hitting percentage, fourth-best in the Ivy League, and finished with 279 kills on the season. She also was the team's top blocker during Ivy play, averaging 1.12 per game. Freshman Ann Cowell (Santa Barbara, CA) is expected to come in and immediately push to be the second starting middle, and junior Lizzie Laundy (Evanston, IL) will be making a shift back to that position after a season playing mostly defensive specialist. That may allow senior co-captain Jessica Kondrick (San Diego, CA), who started in the middle in 2005, to move out to her former position on the right side. Kondrick was the team's leading blocker over the course of the season, tallying 82.

Other than Kondrick, there are no lefties to fill the spot, but sophomore Lillie Cohn (Seattle, WA) had an outstanding spring. She is expected to compete with Kondrick for playing time, while freshman Liz Mueller (San Francisco, CA) will also be in the hunt for time on the court. Having a righty in that position will create a very different offensive dynamic than the one seen over the last few years, but it is one which could very well play in Brown's favor.

The two senior outside hitters, co-captain Shawn-Elyse Tulac (Claremont, CA) and Rikki Baldwin (Magnolia, TX), attack at a height difficult for even the tallest blocks to defend, and both are strong blockers in their own right. Tulac had a breakout junior year after an injury-hampered her sophomore season, placing high on the team in many statistical categories. She was second on the team and 10th in the Ivy League with 298 kills, and her 186 kills in conference play were seventh in the Ancient Eight. She also led the team with 30 service aces and placed third in the Ivy League with 21 in conference games. She added 187 digs, fourth on the team. After an up and down season, Baldwin demonstrated why she is one of the most feared attackers in the league, leading the team with 188 kills in Ivy League games. The seniors will have talented sophomore Lyndse Yess (Eugene, OR), and freshmen Kiana Alzate (La Jolla, CA) and Moira Gallagher (Tulsa, OK) backing them up.

The setter position is also an open spot, following the graduation of four-year starter and Brown's all-time assists leader, Leigh Martin. Junior Alanna McDonald (Seattle, WA) and sophomore Natalie Meyers (Huntington Beach, CA) both saw limited playing time in 2005. They will be competing with freshman Kate Jacobs (La Jolla, CA). The two returning players have experience and knowledge at the collegiate level, but Jacobs offers a different element with height and a predominant left hand.

The backcourt may be where the team is deepest. Junior Katie Lapinski (Niles, IL) returns from an outstanding sophomore season, during which she was second in the Ivy League in digs/game as the team's libero. Her 4.98 digs per game was the second-best such average in Brown history, and she was able to improve that mark to 6.43 per game during the Ivy League season. Senior Victoria Kasten (Norwalk, OH) and junior Rachel Lipman (San Diego, CA) are both expected to push for starting time. They will have pressure from freshman defender Kim Bundick (St. Charles, IL). Outside hitters Yess and Alzate may also see time in the backcourt.

The Bears begin their season Friday, Sept. 8, at the UNH Tournament. The squad's non-conference schedule then brings them to San Diego for another tournament, before coming home for a match-up with the University of Rhode Island and the annual Brown Invitational. The Ivy League season will begin on Sept. 29 at the Pizzitola Center against Yale.