Returning nine letterwinners from the 10-13 squad of 2010 which gave top-seeded Amherst a run for its money in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament, the Cardinals will look to be as competitive, if not more so, as the 2011 campaign unfolds. Team captain and top hitter Casey Reed '12 (#6, photo by Steve McLaughlinPhotography.com), who averaged 3.69 kills per set, will be the go-to hitter once again, according to Head Coach Gale Lackey. Wesleyan's other top returning hitters are middles in Kim Farris '14 and Monica Leslie '14. They combined for 3.35 kills per set along with 1.52 blocks a set, led by Farris' 0.94 figure.
Back is setter Laura Yim '13, who started all 23 matches a year ago and averaged a solid 9.40 set assists per set. Joining her as a top newcomer in that area is Claire Larson '15, whom Coach Lackey is particular high on as an immediate contributor. Both setters are 5-8 which supports the front line for blocking.
Other players back from a year ago who will be counted on for hitting support are Laura Volgenau '13, Kate Centofanti '14 and Jess Shevins '14. Jeanne McPhee '13 returns as a defensive specialist on the heels of the graduation of two-time All-American and NESCAC Defensive Player of the Year Ruby Hernandez '11.
Along with Larson, the Cardinals welcome five newcomers in total, three of them as solid hitters with considerable height.
"With the loss of all three primary passers and two outstanding back row defenders from the 2010 team, this year’s preseason focus will be serving and passing as well as lots of defensive repetition," said Coach Lackey. "The setting and hitting outlook is bright. There will be experience all around at the other positions with lots of height and fire power. First ball contacts will be the key to our success."
Wesleyan gets the 2011 season underway with a tournament at Vassar Fri. and Sat., Sept. 9-10. Opponents in the five-team affair include the host, MIT, Stevens Tech and Montclair St. The Cardinals open the home slate Tues., Sept. 13 vs. Albertus Magnus as eight of the squad's 28 matches will be home. The only two home NESCAC matches come early as Amherst and Middlebury invade Middletown Sept. 16-17. Amherst was the top-seed and host of the 2010 NESCAC Tournament while Middlebury was seeded second and proved to be the tournament winner. Just six of Wesleyan's outings in 2011 are road matches while 14 will be contested on a neutral site.