PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The women's volleyball season at Plymouth State College begins this week in full force as the Panthers play the home opener Wednesday at Foley Gymnasium, and travel to Western Connecticut this weekend for the beginning of Little East Conference play.
This is the third varsity season of women's volleyball at PSC, but the first year for new head coach Moira Long. The Panthers host Endicott at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 9) before heading the Danbury, Conn., Friday and Saturday (Sept. 11-12) for the first of three Little East Conference regular-season, round-robin events. The LEC Tournament is set for Oct. 23-24 at UMass Dartmouth.
Coach Long hopes to continue the success established by John Garneau, who started the program in 1996 and coached it the first two seasons. PSC finished with a remarkable 25-3 record in the inuagural season, and followed that with a 22-10 legend last fall.
"I want to continue building a strong tradition here at Plymouth State," said Long, who came to PSC from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, where she was head volleyball coach. "The program is certainly off to a good start, and we have a solid group of returnees to lead this year's team. We've been together just a couple of weeks, and things are going very well."
The Panthers will play in three in-season tournaments (at Roger Williams, Bates, and UMaine Farmington) as well as the three LEC round-robin matches. PSC will play at home just five times this season, including one of the LEC dates on Oct. 6th.
"We definitely want to be competitive in the Little East Conference," said Long, a former four-year setter at Marist College, "and there's no reason we can't be with the talent we have here. We certainly want to be in the top three. Our main goal going into the season, though, is to play well and come together as a group, especially with a new coach."
Long also announced that team captains have been selected. Juniors Sarah Goggin (Harwinton, CT) and Veronica Mulholland (Billerica, MA), who have both been with the program since the beginning, have been voted co-captains for the 1998 campaign.
P.S.C. Women's Volleyball Outlook
The history book of the PSC women's volleyball team, which inked its first words in 1996, begins a new chapter this season with the arrival of new head coach Moira Long.
Long has seven players back from last year's PSC team, but will have to do without the graduated trio of Megan Swenson, Chantelle Renna and Joyce Pochily. They were three of the anchors of the team the past two years, and PSC will need a group effort from this year's squad to overcome the loss.
The top returnees include juniors Veronica Mulholland (Billerica, MA), Jill Langis (Farmington, NH) and Anna Lingelbach (Center Harbor, NH). Mulholland and Langis and are solid outside hitters as well as strong defensive players. Lingelbach joined the team last season and was a dominant presence at the net, providing an offensive threat and leading the team in blocks.
Sophomore Stephanie Spiridakis (Belmont, NH) got plenty of experience as the team's setter last season, and she could be primed for a strong campaign. She's also an excellent server and defensive player. Others with experience include juniors Andrea Baretta (Kensington, CT) and Sarah Goggin (Harwinton, CT) and sophomore Pam Prince (Tilton, NH). Baretta can step in as a setter, and Goggin and Prince are top-notch back row players.
"I've been very impressed with the defense I've seen," said Long. "We have some of the best passers I've seen in a while."
The top newcomers, according to Long, should be freshmen Dawn Mellon (Center Barnstead, NH), a strong, powerful outside hitter, and Sarah Morse (Sandown, NH), a middle hitter who is strong at the net.
"It's always difficult for everyone with a new coach and a new system," said Long, who is joined on the staff by assistant Bill Sweeney, a former PSC men's club team player. "But as long as we go slowly and tell them why and what we're doing, they'll be more receptive. I think we'll be competitive, and come together as a team."
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