July 16, 1997
Volleyball 1997 Season Preview
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - As the Maryland Terrapins prepare for the 1997 volleyball season, head coach Janice Kruger must find a way to incorporate five new faces into an already young and versatile lineup. Kruger, now in her 10th season on the College Park campus, welcomes back her starting setter and the leading hitter on the Terp squad from a year ago. Kruger's first task is to replace three departed seniors who comprised a dangerously strong outside and middle attack. Kruger may look to one of the returning veterans to step into the outside and middle positions, or perhaps any one of three highly-regarded freshmen will be counted on to control the court.
Two seniors -- Elizabeth Efron and Eden Kroeger -- will be joined by a pair of returning juniors in Kimberly Adolphs and Jaime Summers, to provide leadership for the Terrapins. At the head of the pack is 1996 First Team All-ACC and ACC Tournament MVP selection Elizabeth Efron.
The 6-0 right side hitter hit a team-high .314, and was second on the team in kills with 381. Efron is also dangerous behind the serving line, registering 45 aces last year. She averaged 3.8 kills per game in leading Maryland to a perfect 16-0 record in the ACC, and the ACC Championship. What makes her even more fearsome is her absolutely fearless attitude about the game. She combines incredible quickness and game savvy to make a powerful presence.
"Eli's (Efron) work ethic, her attitude and her experience will be greater this year. She is one of the those players who got an opportunity to go through her senior season last year, and now she gets to do it again. Generally, this is a good thing," Kruger anticipates.
Senior Eden Kroeger, a 1996 First Team All-ACC selection and an All-District 3 selection, returns as the starting setter for the fourth straight season. She combines exceptional hands with a keen understanding of the game to mold the heart of the Terrapin team. The Colorado native is only 399 assists shy of breaking Maryland's all-time assist record. She owns the individual season record in assists with 1,405 which she set her freshman year. As a sophomore she totaled 1,245 which places her third, and her last year's total places her fourth. Kroeger currently stands in sixth place in the ACC career record books with 3,878 assists.
"It is going to be a challenge for Eden in a sense that it is only her and Eli coming back as experienced players. The two of them together will be a strong force, and something that other teams will be well aware of," saysKruger.
New to the starting lineup this year, but not new to Terrapin fans, is junior middle hitter Jaime Summers. The 5-11 junior played sparingly during her first two seasons due to a strong corp of upperclassmen talent in front of her. Summers had an excellent spring, and is drawing high expectations from the Maryland coaching staff.
Summers played in 19 matches last season, seeing action in 36 games. She totaled 64 kills, including a career-high 12 against Georgia Tech on Nov. 2. In that match, Summers hit a team-high .579 and stuffed four blocks.
"Jaime is ready for the challenge. She was ready for it last year but didn't get many opportunities," says Kruger. "We will have to see how she responds when she has to play in every single game. She has never had to do that. We will see her grow a lot," continues Kruger.
Kim Adolphs, a junior outside hiiter from Australia, will be vying for one of the outside positions. She played in 29 matches, appearing in 62 games. Her passing game is stable and will be an important facet of her game. She possesses a powerful swing, and has a deadly jump serve. "Kim just needs to play more, and become more comfortable," Kruger says.
Adolphs appeared in 29 matches, playing in 62 games. She totaled 28 kills, eight service aces, 52 digs and six blocks.
Senior Lindy Forsberg, junior Tania Nagl and sophomore Kate Hannas round out the list of returning players. Both Forsberg and Nagl will add depth to the Maryland passing game, as well as seeing time in the front row.
"Lindy (Forsberg) will help us in two ways--one is the fact that she is a senior and she has played in a variety of situations. Second, her passing and defense," says Kruger.
"Tania (Nagl) is a good team player. I see her contributing in the back row on defense. Her serving improved a great deal this spring," adds Kruger.
"Consistency will be Kate's (Hannas) biggest challenge simply because she has never been put in this type of pressure situation where she needs to be out on the court and be ready to play at all times," says Kruger.
"I believe we will have younger players who will see a great deal of playing time in the front row, but we are going to need someone to help them," says Kruger.
Joining the Terrapins this season are a trio of signees who could each garner some heavy playing time right away. The loss of Daune Koester and Candice Seitz at the outside might be countered with the addition of the 1996 Gatorade CIrcle of Champions High School Volleyball Player of the Year for the New England Region, Katie Jentes. An exceptional athlete and intense competitor, the 6-2 Jentes possesses good size and jump. Her attitude and work ethic are nothing short of phenomenal. Her level of play makes her a possibility at both the outside and middle hitters.
"Katie (Jentes) is a player who has all of the skills to make her a good collegiate player--hitting, passing, digging, serving and blocking. She possesses all of the knowledge of a complete game," Krugers says. "She is a big, strong physical force at the net."
Katie Cramer and Maren Stuart will help fill the void of departed senior Shannon Saltzman in the middle. Cramer is perhaps Maryland's most highly touted incoming freshman in program history. The Colorado native was rated by Midwest Volleyball Scouting Report as one of the top-three recruits in Colorado, and one of the top-16 in the 12-state midwest region. The 6-1 Stuart is a fierce competitor in the front row. She combines her great leaping ability and quick hands which make her an effective blocker. She will combine with Cramer and Jentes to showcase one of the tallest frontlines in the ACC.
"Katie (Cramer) is playing well in the middle, and should see some definite playing time. She is a front row force. She is comfortable with her back-row play, but in her mind, she sees herself as a front-row player," Kruger says.
"Maren has a great heart and work ethic. She is tough-minded and has a strong winning-attitude," continues Kruger. "She also shows promise in the outside position. Her skills and body type will allow her to play at the outside position in the future."
Adding to an already powerful freshman class is Katarina Bridova and Willette Dority. Although Kroeger is the "heir apparent" at the quarterback position, she will have an understudy in Slovakia native Bridova. Bridova has played volleyball for six years, and was coached by her father. "Katarina has good speed.
Maryland begins the 1997 season playing on the road at the Oregon State Tournament where the Terps will see their fair share of tough competition. Pac-10 powerhouse Oregon State, and nationally-ranked Ohio State headline the field. The Terrapins host the Ramada New Carrollton Invitational, and welcome South Carolina, Kansas State and George Mason.
The Terps, the defending ACC champions, are picked to finish fourth in the ACC race. Duke, Georgia Tech and North Carolina are all ahead of Maryland in the poll which is voted upon by the league's nine head coaches. The ACC Tournament will be held at N.C. State this year.