Panthers have high hopes in 2012
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new season for the Plymouth State University women's volleyball team begins this Saturday when the Panthers travel to Norton, Mass., for the Wheaton College Invitational.
The weekend's competition for PSU will mark year two under head coach Chris Kilmer. PSU will play three matches on Saturday, facing Western New England University (1:00 p.m.), Emerson College (3:00 p.m.), and host Wheaton (7:00 p.m.). The Panthers will also compete in tournament play next weekend, Sept. 7-8, at the Endicott College Invitational, and at the Johnson & Wales University Fall Classic on Sept. 28-29.
|Head Coach Chris Kilmer|
PSU's home opener at Foley Gym is set for Tuesday, Sept. 11, against Coach Kilmer's former school, Saint Michael's College. The Panthers will also have a pair of home matches on Saturday, Sept. 22, against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and the University of Maine Farmington.
The Panthers have 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.
Plymouth State and UMass Boston were LEC regular season co-champions in 2011, with UMB taking the LEC Tournament title. PSU is seeking its first LEC Tournament championship since 2004.
2012 PSU Women's Volleyball Outlook
Coach Kilmer welcomed back seven veterans from last year's squad, which posted a 25-11 overall record. Five promising newcomers have joined the team for what Kilmer says should be a balanced unit.
"I'm really excited with what I've seen after just a couple of practices," said Kilmer. "The returnees came back in much better shape than they were last season, and the newcomers have picked things up faster than I expected them to. The effort we've seen in practice so far has been outstanding."
Leading the way for the Panthers is senior Casey Stoodley (Salem, N.H.), a two-time First Team All-LEC outside hitter. She averages more than three kills per set and reached double figures in both kills and digs in the same match 10 times last season. PSU is looking for Stoodley to continue as one of the top hitters in the LEC.
"We think our offense will be strong this season; that starts with Casey and everyone in the LEC knows about her," said Kilmer. "We also have several other returnees who have put in a lot of work during the off-season, and the addition of some strong new freshmen makes our offense a strength for us."
Senior Elissa Morin (Nashua, N.H./Nashua North) and junior Kaitlyn Tedeschi (Pascoag, R.I./Burrillville) are key middle hitters who will be involved in the offense. Both worked hard during the off-season, according to Kilmer, and are ready to make big contribution. The addition of freshman Sam Clark (Coventry, R.I./Coventry) will also catch the notice of opponents.
Joining Stoodley as outside hitters are sophomore Becca Gosselin (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) and freshmen Kaitlyn Coon (Poestenkill, N.Y./Averill Park) and Kira Goodheart (Meredith, N.H./Inter-Lakes). Sophomore Jana Nieman (Fair Lawn, N.J./Fair Lawn) will also see plenty of playing time, as either a middle or outside hitter.
Junior Cassie Pelton (Brookline, N.H./Hollis-Brookline) is a top returning back-row player and will likely wear the libero jersey. Sophomore Meghan Delaney (Bedford, N.H./Bedford) will also look to contribute.
The setter job is open following the graduation of two-time All-LEC performer Sarah Cady. Sophomore Hannah Anderson (Exeter, R.I./Exeter West Greenwich) got some collegiate experience as a rookie last fall while freshman Kirsten Perrotta (Hudson, N.H./Notre Dame, Mass.) has been impressive in preseason. Kilmer says both he and the team are comfortable with either setter running the show.
""Our goal is to win the conference championship," said Kilmer. "I think we flew a little under the radar last year, but I don't think that will be the case this year. Beating UMass Boston in the regular season caught people's attention, in the conference and in the region. People will be gunning for us, and that changes our mindset a little bit. So far, I'm very pleased with the way things are working."