August 28, 2008

Volleyball Opens 2008 Season With Quinnipiac Invitational Friday

2008 Season Starts At Home

The Quinnipiac University volleyball team begins the 2008 season by playing host to Fordham, Morgan State, Rhode Island and Towson in the Quinnipiac Invitational. The Bobcats will take on Fordham (1:30 p.m.) and Morgan State (7:30 p.m.) on Friday before challenging Rhode Island (2 p.m.) and Towson (7 p.m.) Saturday.

In With The New

This year's Quinnipiac volleyball team has a distinctively new look with Robin Lamott Sparks bringing in six freshmen to comprise more than half of this season's roster. The freshman class is made up of Stephanie Biediger (5-11, OH, Houston, Tex.), Kelby Carey (5-11, OH, Surfside Colony, Calif.), Shelagh Dolan (6-1, MH, Westford, Mass.), Daniela Gomez (5-6, L, Paramus, N.J.), Kayla Lawler (5-9, S, Richmond, Ind.) and Alyssa Naylor (6-1, MH, San Diego, Calif.).

In With The Old, Too

QU also welcomes back three seniors and a junior. Jenna Benigno returns after compiling three triple-doubles and leading Quinnipiac in kills (181), assists (384) and blocks (48). Also back are senior Crista Valentino and junior Kristen Corinaldesi. Valentino was third on the team in kills (155) and assists (37) a year ago, while Corinaldesi led the Bobcats in service aces (30). Senior Erin Overdevest will redshirt and return next season.

Scouting The Fordham Rams

The Rams put a very young team on the court that finished 15-20 overall last season. Freshmen Christi Griffiths (450), Kailee May (329) and Katie Wells (312) are back as sophomores after finishing first, second and third, respectively, in kills last season. Griffiths also led the team in blocks (134) last season. Senior setter Katherine Burrell ran the offense with aplomb, totaling 1527 assists.

Scouting the Morgan State Bears

The Bears will look to replace six seniors lost to graduation after finishing 11-17 last season. The leading returner is junior outside hitter Ivanti Bush, the 2006 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year. Bush totaled 233 kills, despite playing in only 68 games.

Scouting the Rhode Island Rams

Rhode Island (13-15 in 2007) returns its leaders in kills (Caitlyn Welsh, 264) and blocks (Lauren McIntosh, 77), but must find a way to replace setter Kaira Kachadurian, who recorded 898 of the Rams' 1,092 assists in 2007. Also returning are sophomore middle blocker Kayla Newberg (236 kills, 66 blocks) and sophomore outside hitter Amy Mellard (190 kills, 28 blocks), as well as sophomore setter Lindsay Lytle (95 assists, 35 blocks).

Scouting the Towson Tigers

The Tigers (7-23 in 2007) return all of their key contributors, having lost just one player on last year's roster to graduation. Sophomore outside hitter Maddie Haseltine led Towson with 377 kills last season, while junior middle blocker Alysha Fanning led the Tigers in blocks with 109. Junior setter Katee Luecke ran the Tigers' offense with 987 assists.

Bobcats In The NEC Preseason Poll

The Northeast Conference's coaches picked Quinnipiac to finish seventh in league this year, an improvement from the Bobcats' ninth-place finish a year ago. The entire rundown of the voting, including first-place votes in parentheses, was:

1) Central Connecticut (4)

2) Long Island (3)

3) Robert Morris (2)

4) Fairleigh Dickinson

5) Sacred Heart

6) Saint Francis (Pa.)

7) Quinnipiac

8) Wagner

9) St. Francis (N.Y.)

On Deck

The Bobcats return to action, Friday, Sept. 5, when they begin the two-day, three-game Maine Invitational against Kent State. Saturday's match-ups with Maine and Providence will follow.