New Look Terps Set For 2012 Season
Aug. 23, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - With nine returning letterwinners and an infusion of seven highly-touted freshmen, the University of Maryland volleyball team is poised to rebound from an injury-riddled 2011 campaign as the Terps begin the season this weekend in Philadelphia, Pa., at the Villanova Classic.
A core of veteran players and the addition of several talented newcomers will surely provide the needed depth to a roster that was hit hard by injuries last season, and should allow the Terps to improve upon their 10th-place conference finish last season.
"Last season, we fell into a perfect storm," said head coach Tim Horsmon. "Our team was really challenged -- some controllable issues, some not. At the end of day, we're accountable for them and we'll grow from that. On a positive note, it was probably one of the better teams I've coached in terms of chemistry. The kids worked hard and a lot of great things were happening. We just didn't execute in some of the matches. We got better throughout the year and some things started to come together during the spring. I think when we were playing well, we were really good. I liked how we progressed during the spring."
The Terps return nine players that accounted for 81. 5 percent of their offense, led by junior Mary Cushman who recorded a team-high 355 kills in 2011. She is joined by senior Caitlin Adams who finished third on the team in kills (253) last season, while sophomore Ashleigh Crutcher tallied 208 kills despite only appearing in 21 of Maryland's 32 matches due to injury. The squad will also look for contributions from junior Carlisle Abele, and freshmen Emily Fraik, Kamrin Gold and Kelsey Hrebenach.
A duo of talented setters will be charged with setting up Cushman and the Terrapin hitters. Senior Remy McBain ranked sixth in the ACC last season averaging 9.77 assists per set and totaled 1,203. The Leonia, N.J., native, who ranks fifth all-time in Maryland history with 2,644 assists, will be joined by freshman Mackenzie Dagostino. Dagostino was a 2011-12 Under Armour All-America Second Team member and Andi Collins Award winner, which recognizes the nation's top-prep setter.
Defensively, junior Sarah Harper who notched a single-season school-record 569 digs in 2011 and ranked fourth in the conference averaging 4.63 digs per set will handle libero duties. But the Charlottesville, Va., native will not be alone along the backline. Sophomore Kaitlyn King has transitioned from setter to a defensive specialist and is joined by three newcomers in redshirt freshman Nicola Ribisi, and freshmen liberos Dani Bozzini and Amy Dion.
Along the net, 2011 ACC All-Freshman team selection Adreené Elliott will challenge opposing hitters. The native of Winston-Salem, N.C., finished second on the team with 99 total blocks behind Adams' 112. Sophomore Catie Coyle and Hrebenach, the 47th-ranked recruit in the class of 2012 by PrepVolleyball.com, will provide added depth at the middle blocker position.
Unlike last season, the added depth will allow Horsmon and the coaching staff to feature some different lineup rotations along with increasing the competition level at practice.
"We didn't have flexibility due to injuries last year," said Horsmon. "If we stay healthy, I think we'll have some good competition for positions and be able to do some different things with our lineup. I think that has already shown up in our practices. We are excited about that.
"You can see a difference in this team from last year. I think our upperclassmen are seasoned and have shown a work ethic and passion we have been waiting to see. They have done a tremendous job leading. The freshmen have brought a ton of positive energy and have worked hard. I like the mixture of their personalities and skill sets. It's been a really dynamic group and a good mix."
The Terps open the 2012 season Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Villanova as part of the Villanova Classic. It is the fourth consecutive year the Terps and Wildcats have faced off with Villanova winning the last three meetings including last year's season opener at the Comcast Lady Vol Classic, 3-1.
Villanova graduated seven players and four starters from its 2011 squad including All-American defensive specialist Kim Maroon. Krista Anderson is the top returning player for the Wildcats and totaled 282 kills in 2011. Carly Edwards and CeCe Twitty combined for 177 kills and 58 blocks last year and will have a chance for increased roles this season.
The Villanova Classic continues on Saturday with two matches for the Terps. Maryland opens the day against New Hampshire at 10:30 a.m. The Terps are 4-0 all-time against UNH with their last meeting coming in 2007.
New Hampshire has eight returning players from a team that went 10-20 last season. The squad is led by a pair of second-team All-America East choices in Jansan Falcusan, who was fifth in the league in assists (8.71 assists per set), while Morgan Thatcher averaged 3.16 kills per set in league play.
The Terps close the tournament against Robert Morris at 3:30 p.m. It's the Terps first-ever meeting with the Colonials, a program that current Maryland head coach Tim Horsmon led from 1999 through 2002.
The Colonial return 10 players from a team that went 15-17 a year ago. Lindsey Monger returns after claiming All-NEC honors a season ago after being the only individual in the league to finish among the conference's top 10 in both kills per set and digs per set. Monger is joined by Amanda Craig who posted at least 200 kills for the third consecutive season in 2011 despite missing the final six matches of the campaign due to injury.
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