Panthers begin new era under coach Chris Kilmer
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new era for the Plymouth State University women's volleyball team begins this weekend when the Panthers travel to Springfield, Mass., for the season-opening Springfield College Invitational.
The weekend's competition will mark the debut of new Panther head coach Chris Kilmer, a Plymouth State graduate who came back to PSU this summer after six years at Saint Michael's College, the past three as head coach. PSU will play two matches on both Friday and Saturday, including Friday's second match against host Springfield, which is coached by Moira Long, who left PSU to return to her alma mater three months ago.
PSU Volleyball Preview '11
|Head Coach Chris Kilmer|
The Panthers will also compete in tournament play next weekend, Sept. 9-10, at the Endicott College Invitational, and will travel to Coach Kilmer's former school, Saint Michael's, on Tuesday, Sept. 13. The home debut and Little East Conference opener is set for Saturday, Sept. 17, at Foley Gymnasium vs. Western Connecticut State University.
PSU has a 31-match slate on tap, including two more tournaments and seven LEC matches. The regular season goes through the end of October, with the annual conference tournament the first week in November. The LEC Tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament.
PSU is seeking its first LEC championship since 2004.
2011 PSU Women's Volleyball Outlook
The Panthers graduated only one senior from last year's team, so Kilmer has the luxury of having every starter back, including a pair of all-conference performers. PSU finished 19-14 last year, finished third in the LEC with a 5-2 mark, and advanced to the semifinals of the LEC and ECAC New England tournaments.
"Considering everyone started the preseason not knowing what to expect, and that includes both the players and me," said Kilmer, "I think everyone's pretty happy where we are right now. We've progressed a lot faster and we're in a much better spot than I anticipated."
Kilmer added that the returning veterans, particularly the four seniors and two juniors, have shown outstanding leadership during the transition. "They've been very vocal and supportive, and encouraging of the underclassmen. We're a very talented and deep team, with a lot of balance throughout the line-up. It gives me a lot of options in getting ready for the season."
The top returnees are junior outside hitter Casey Stoodley and senior setter and co-captain Sarah Cady, who were both All-LEC selections last year. Stoodley was a First Team selection after leading the team in kills and service aces and Cady was a Second Team pick after ranking third in the conference in assists.
Other top returning outside hitters include senior Meghan Sullivan and sophomores Allie Jones, Shannen Vaughn, and Cassie Pelton. Returning middle hitters include junior Elissa Morin and sophomore Kaitlyn Tedeschi.
""Our goal is to win the conference championship," said Kilmer, "and that's a realistic goal. UMass Boston is very strong, as are some other teams, but there's enough talent on our team to win it, absolutely."
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