Season Preview: Volleyball Opens 2012 Campaign at Marauder Clash on Friday
Wednesday, August 29, 2012 - Newark, Del.
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Returning a large portion of student-athletes from last year’s roster, the 2012 Wilmington University volleyball team is primed to make a run at its first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Championship since 2004. Head coach Kim Huggins-Habbert believes she has the team in 2012 to get the job done.
“We are a top contended in the CACC. No doubt in mind,” said the head coach who will be entering her ninth season at the helm of the Wildcats in 2012. “I’m not one to look into rankings and polls, and I’m not thinking about the second place preseason poll. It only matters where we finish at the end of the CACC Tournament.”
Three of the returning starters earned All-CACC honors a season ago, led by the team’s lone first team selection and current senior Nicole Wiechecki. Classmate Brooke Foskey also returns for her senior season and will help lead a cast of three juniors, one sophomore, and seven freshmen.
The Wildcats return their top four attackers, and two best blockers to a lineup that went 20-10 overall last year, ending with a CACC Tournament semifinal loss as the South’s third seed. Wiechecki paced the offense with 280 kills (2.72 per set), and first in the CACC with 67 aces (0.65 per set). Foskey was second on the team with 225 kills (2.27 per set).
The junior class is led by two of the best returning middles in the CACC and the top two blockers on the team from last year. Brittany Biddle knocked down 181 kills (1.93 per set), third most on the squad, and was second on the team with 74 total blocks (0.79 per set). Classmate Katie Shorter was fourth on the team with 178 kills (1.82) and led the team in 2011 with 98 blocks (1.00 per set). Shorter led the CACC in block solos, block assists, total blocks and blocks per set while Biddle was third in block assists and blocks per set. The third junior, Ann Marie Scarfo, returns for her third season where she will anchor the backline in either a libero or defensive specialist role.
The lone sophomore on the team may be the most important member on the squad, as Kasey Couch will quarterback the Wildcats as the setter. Running in a 6-2 formation last season with former setter Shannon Rumple, Couch dished out 292 assists (3.17 per set) in 92 sets played. She also helped defensively with 147 digs (1.60 per set) and picked up 22 services aces as a true freshman. Couch will now step in as the experienced collegiate setter in this year’s 6-2 offense.
The freshmen class not only supplies depth in the lineup, but the talented group allows the team to compete every day in practice. Kaitlin DiGiacinto, Jenny Dennis, Shelby Henderson, Hannah Karas, Hannah McQueen, Nicole Shuba and Alex Siolos come into Wilmington looking to make an impact right away, but also create a solid core for the future of Wildcat volleyball.
DiGiacinto and Henderson will step in and battle for the second outside hitter position, while Henderson is also versatile enough to battle Scarfo on the backline. Henderson is an All-State product out of the Padua Academy. Habbert is also looking for Siolos to step in compete as a setter and on the right side in the 6-2 attack.
McQueen and Shuba will battle for playing time on the outside while the left-handed Shuba will also compete for the second setting position. Karas can transition from the middle and the right-side while Dennis will provide depth at the libero and defensive specialist positions.
Assisting Habbert will again be long time assistant coach Ross Barlow, beginning his ninth season under the head coach.
“We are a very talented group. We brought in a very talented core of freshmen and they allowed us to step up our competitiveness in practice. Our depth allows us to train at a higher level (during preseason) and hopefully they continue to play at a higher level this season.”