Volleyball Looking To Improve On Last Year's Foundation
Aug. 25, 2014
Chestnut Hill, Mass. - Volleyball season is back! Head coach Chris Campbell has put a tough 2013-14 season behind him and is looking forward to beginning his fourth year at BC.
"I'm certainly excited. I think we have a nice blend of returning talent and experience along with some new blood that will be able to contribute, both on and off the court," said Campbell.
Campbell's 2013-14 squad was lacking the depth and experience it needed, with as many as 3 underclassmen on the court at times. Volleyball, a game where court experience and repetitions are a necessity more than almost any other sport, is best performed by veteran players.
"You always rely on your older players for leadership because they have been through the collegiate season enough times so they know what to expect and how to prepare for the rigors of the ACC and set an example for the younger players."
BC will have that this season, returning nine players, including the Eagles' pin threats Courtney Castle and Katty Workman. Also returning is setter Kellie Barnum who will quarterback the Eagles' offense for her final year. Campbell has a strong recruiting class coming in, including two transfers and three freshmen.
OUTSIDE/RIGHT SIDE HITTER
The Eagles will remain solid on the outside with senior Courtney Castle and junior Katty Workman returning. Last season Workman anchored the offense with her record breaking kill total (438), kills per set (4.04) and attack attempts (1,207). On six separate occasions last season Workman tallied over 20 kills in a single match. At the end of the season Workman was ranked 4th overall in the ACC for kills.
Castle will play the other outside position, after a noteworthy 2013 season in which she accumulated 159 kills and 258 digs. Castle and Workman had a combined 20 double-doubles during the 2013-14 season.
Joining them on the outside will be 6'1" freshman Sol Calvete, an esteemed played from Argentina. Calvete participated in two Pan-American Championships (U18 and U23), two South American Championships, and two World Championships."Sol will be an interesting story line over the course of the season. All three of the outsides bring different skills sets. So it gives us a lot of freedom to tailor what we are doing on the floor to any particular opponent on any particular weekend. It's quite exciting."
Also hitting on the outside is 6'1" freshman Haley Martin. Martin, an esteemed court and beach player from Long Beach, Calif. was most recently a part of the AAU 18-under Sand National Championship Team."Haley comes from a very good club program and played a high level of volleyball before coming to BC. The challenge for freshmen is always their ability to get up to the speed of the game in the ACC and adjusting to college life, both of which her and the other freshmen should be able to do."
The right side is stocked with height. This season 6-foot junior Sarah Mendes (93 kills-55 errors-302 attacks) will see some time on the right side. Julia Topor, a 6'3" transfer sophomore from University of Nevada, Las Vegas, will be an option at the right side for Coach Cameron. "One of the things we try to do is train our pin hitters to be comfortable on the left and right, but with that being said, there are certainly some players who will spend more time on the right, including Mendes and Topor," Campbell said of his pin hitters.
With the loss of dominant blocker Melissa McTighe, the young group of middles will have their work cut out for them. Barbara Gonzalez and Anna Skold both saw the court often in the 2013 season, with 72 and 95 sets played respectively. Skold notched 14 kills versus two ACC opponents last season, Wake Forest and Syracuse. Gonzalez recorded 0.67 blocks per set, second only behind McTighe, putting her on pace to be a dominant blocker in the ACC.
Completing the young group of middle hitters is Brittany Pavich, a 6'3" freshman from Hinsdale, Ill. Pavich lead her high school team to two state championships and her AAU team captured the national title in 2013 and 2014.
"We have good size in the middle, all three of them are 6'3" and they all have different strengths. Some are a little better blocking, or offensively, some are better off of two feet or one foot. I really like them as a group because they give us a lot of choices in the lineup we put out and the style of play that we are able to bring," said Campbell of his middle hitters. Each of these athletes will be called upon to strengthen the middle and each has the potential to play a prominent role in Campbell's rotation.
Returning for her final season as an Eagle, Kellie Barnum will be a key component to BC's success. Barnum dished out 1,108 assists in 2013, bringing her total career assists to 2,498 and putting her 4th all-time. The Pacific Palisades, Calif. native will be a third year captain of the BC squad.
"Setting is a position that most strongly combines athleticism and understanding of the game, so the more experience, the better. And Kelly has three years of significant playing experience and continues to understand the game and what she needs to do better and better to get the most out of her teammates."
A junior transfer from Eastern Kentucky University, Mallori Moffat, will be joining the Eagles as a setter. At EKU Moffat played in all 238 matches, was the team assist leader in 2012-13 and second in assists in 2013-14.
Defense from BC should be solid this season, as each of the returning defensive specialists have seen significant court time. Last season's starting libero, Madisen Lydon, will be just a sophomore this season, after a stunning freshman campaign where she led the team in digs with 422 in 115 sets. Lydon is also in the record books where she holds the 9th most digs per set for a single season, 3.67.
Senior Lauren Fields will return for her final stint with the Eagles after she helped anchor the BC defense last season with 106 digs. Along with Fields is junior Franny Hock, who had a strong second season, posting 121 digs and 1.75 digs per set.
"They each have different strengths, and of course we are trying to work on them all having the complete package. But they're so even in abilities that it really gives us the freedom to choose who is playing the best on any weekend. That elevated level of play from all of them will be very helpful for us," said Campbell.
BC will face a tough group of opponents this season, which includes matchups against seven teams that made the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Eagles begin the 2014 campaign with four tournaments. The first is the BC Invitational (August 29-30), where they host Holy Cross, Hartford and Marist at the Heights. BC then travels to New Haven, Conn., to battle Albany, Minnesota and Yale at the Yale University Invitational (Sept. 5-6). At the Long Island University Tournament (Sept. 12-13) in Brooklyn, N.Y., the Eagles play Temple, LIU Brooklyn and Northern Kentucky. Before opening conference play, BC heads down the road to take on Northeastern and Harvard in the New England Challenge (Sept. 19-21).
The Maroon and Gold start Atlantic Coast Conference play with two away matches at Louisville (Sept. 26) and Pittsburgh (Sept. 28). The Eagles host the next four league games, taking on Syracuse (Oct. 5), Duke (Oct. 10), Miami (Oct. 12), and Wake Forest (Oct. 17) in the friendly confines of the Power Gym.
BC continue conference play on the road, battling Notre Dame (Oct. 19), North Carolina (Oct. 24) and NC State (Oct. 26).
The second half of the ACC schedule includes the home-and-away match ups. The Eagles host Notre Dame and North Carolina at the Heights before soaring to Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State and Miami. The Seminoles and Hurricanes both competed in the 2014 NCAA Tournament teams.
The final two games of the regular season take place in the Power Gym, where BC battles Virginia (Nov. 26) and Virginia Tech (Nov. 28). The NCAA Tournament begins on Dec. 5 on campus sites. The regionals will take place in predetermined sites on Dec. 12-13, with the semifinals and championship matches happening on Dec. 18-20 in Oklahoma City, Okla.