With eight winning seasons this decade and a .650 overall winning percentage (195-105), Wesleyan has built a solid volleyball program under Head Coach Gale Lackey, who will be inducted in the Connecticut Volleyball Hall of Fame in November. Wesleyan also has a .580 winning percentage in conference play (58-42) since the introduction of the round-robin scheme in 2000.
A year ago, Wesleyan went 13-13 during the regular season and 4-6 in the NESCAC. The Cardinals, seeded eighth in the NESCAC tournament, traveled to top-seeded Tufts for an opening-round match and gave the Jumbos all they could handle, falling in the opening sets by two-point differentials (29-27, 25-23) before coming up short in the final set, 25-16. Wesleyan took a set off the Jumbos during the regular-season matchup and also handed second-seeded and eventual NESCAC tourney winner Williams a 3-2 loss during round-robin play.
The Cardinals return all but two players from the 2009 squad this season and will be adding six newcomers to bolster the lineup. While all-time assists leader and four-year starting setter Ellie Healy '10 as well as talented middle hitter Ashley Farrow '10 graduated, the Cardinals welcome back 2009 NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year libero Ruby Hernandez '11 (#1, photo lower right). A first-team all-NESCAC choice, AVCA all-New England selection and honorable-mention All-American, Hernandez led the NESCAC in digs (5.47 per set) and ranked 42nd nationally. She is a team tri-captain along with outside hitter Lesley Faulkner '11 (#3, photo left side), who averaged 1.94 kills per set as a starter, and defensive specialist Stephanie Hucker '11 (#11, photo upper right), who played every match and contributed 1.31 digs per set.
Also back are 2009 kills leader Casey Reed '12, who average 3.15 kills from her spot at outside hitter. Alissa Santucci '12 added 2.75 kills per set from the outside while Laura Volgenau '13 is the other returning starter at middle hitter. She was good for a team-high 0.80 blocks and 1.02 kills per set as a rookie.
The remaining returnees include heir-apparent for the starting setter spot Laura Yim '13, Katie Schad '13, Jane Pelzoldt '13, Jeanne McPhee '13 and Ashley Palmieri '13. The six newcomers bring in considerable height led by 6-2 middle hitter Monica Leslie '14, who carried Choate Rosemary Hall to a New England Prep crown as the N.E. Prep Player of the Year. Three others as outside hitters stand 5-10 or taller. Among them, Kim Farris '14, from the Paideia School in Atlanta, is a legacy, daughter of former Wesleyan club player Gail Jenkins Farris '84.
Wesleyan will have an opportunity to demonstrate how quickly it can come together as a squad with a challenging pair of opening matches Sat., Sept. 11 against traditional regional powers Wellesley (24-10 in 2009) and Amherst (20-8). The Cardinals dropped a 3-1 decision to Wellesley and fell to Amherst, 3-2, to inaugurate 2009. The 2010 home season gets underway Wed., Sept. 15 vs. Keene St.
(photos courtesy of SteveMcLaughlinPhotography.com)