Immediate Release: August 26, 2010
Contact: Terrence Lollie (email@example.com)
BU volleyball hopes NCAA experience propels them to new heights
returning starters lead Bearcats into 2010 campaign
coming off its second America East championship in five years,
is aiming for back-to-back titles in 2010. The Bearcats return
five starters, including three all-conference selections, from
a group that gained valuable experience playing in the first
round of the NCAA tournament against the eventual national champion,
"The team has a lot higher expectations this season now
that they have been to the NCAA's," head coach Glenn
Kiriyama said. "We look to build on our tournament bid
and improve our performances in the non-conference tournaments.
Last year was an up and down season for us, so we need to be
more consistent throughout the season. Our goal is to vie for
the conference championship."
For the second consecutive season, the America East coaches have
chosen Binghamton to win the conference championship. The Bearcats
will seek to improve on their 5-5 conference record from last
season and secure their second straight bid to the NCAA's.
"The players have worked hard to get to this position of
competing for the conference title," Kiriyama said. "We
all know that there are many intangibles, many unknowns and that
so much can happen during the course of the season. The level
of play in the conference has increased greatly over the past
few years and we expect it will be a tough fight all the way
to the end."
The outside hitting position will be the strength of the Bearcats
with two veterans, Michelle McDonough
and Anna Lejina, returning to the squad.
McDonough, a senior captain, is coming off yet another impressive
year when she was the Bearcats lone first-team all-conference
selection. She finished first in kills per set (4.00) during
conference play and ranked second overall in both kills per set
(3.83) and points per set (4.21).
"Michelle has been a steady influence for us over her career
and she will be looked upon to carry the load and lead this team,"
said Kiriyama. "Michelle is probably our best all-around
player, both in the back and front row. She works hard and continues
to improve every day."
McDonough displayed her versatility on the court, ranking second
on the team last season in digs (271) and service aces (21).
McDonough's senior leadership and power from the outside will
be key staples for the Bearcats in 2010.
Lejina continued her dominant play as an outside hitter in 2009.
Pairing her up with McDonough on the outside should present a
formidable force for conference foes. Lejina earned second-team
all-conference honors as a junior, she ranked third overall in
both kills per set (3.80) and points per set (4.19). Her .248
hitting percentage was good enough for sixth in the America East
and tops on the team. Lejina tallied 182 digs and 38 blocks,
both good for fifth on the team last season.
"Anna is a go to player for us and can be a dominant force
from the outside," Kiriyama said. "Her game has come
a long way as a result of her hard work. We look forward to her
being a little more consistent so we can rely on her more often."
Senior Sandra DeVito saw plenty of
action for the Bearcats in 2009, making 29 starts. Her senior
leadership will add to the experience of the outside hitting
corps. She ranked fourth on the team with 140 kills. DeVito exhibited
her all-around play from the outside hitter position in 2009.
She ranked second on the team in assists (62), third in service
aces (18) and fourth in blocks (46).
"Sandra was asked to play the right side for us last year
and she did a good job," Kiriyama said. "This season
she will get a look at both the right and left sides. Her hitting
continues to improve which will help our offense immensely."
Newcomer, Iva Partaleva, a sophomore
transfer from Seminole State College in Oklahoma, will provide
depth at outside hitter. The 5-11 native of Bulgaria showed promise
in her first collegiate season and should be a significant addition
to an already potent unit.
"Iva has a lot of junior college experience," Kiriyama
said, "she is a good hitter from either side of the court
and we need to find a place for her on the floor. She'll be one
of the newcomers ready to step on the court for us immediately."
Replacing the presence of 2009 captain Dawn
Lammert at middle blocker will be the responsibility of sophomore
Alex Roland and senior Mercedes
Montford. Roland, an America East all-rookie selection, played
vital minutes for the Bearcats in 2009. Her blocking skills in
the middle will play a crucial role in the team's success. Roland
tallied 70 blocks during her first collegiate season, which ranked
seventh in the America East. Roland revealed her hitting power
in 2009, totaling 116 kills, placing her fifth on the team.
"Alex stepped in during her freshman year and had some great
matches for us and was a difference maker at times," Kiriyama
said. "We expect her to improve her blocking and hitting
so that she can be an even greater force for us in the middle."
Senior Mercedes Montford will aid Roland in the middle by providing
experience and depth at the position. After an injury plagued
2009 season, Montford looks to bounce back and be a presence
in the middle for the Bearcats.
"Unfortunately, Mercedes was injured most of last season,"
Kiriyama said. "She is a gamer though. We believe Mercedes
will present herself as a factor in the middle and help replace
the absence of Dawn."
Freshman Grace Vickers will help reinforce
the middle blocker position. The 6-0 Pleasanton, California native
has a strong volleyball background with solid club experience.
"Grace is a strong hitter with a lot of physical qualities
we like and she will definitely be fighting for playing time,"
Senior Lindsey Mueller returns to
quarterback the Binghamton offense in 2010. Mueller, the Most
Outstanding Player of the 2009 America East tournament, was named
AE Setter of the Week on three different occasions. She received
national honors for her performance during the Binghamton Invite.
She was one of eleven players nationwide named to the Top Performer
of the Week list by the Collegiate Volleyball Update (CVU). Mueller
led the team in assists for the third straight season with 1,084,
ranking second in the conference.
Mueller's knowledge of the BU offense will be essential for the
Bearcats in 2010. Her steady presence on the court allows Binghamton
to be a more dynamic offense by getting everybody involved. She
led the team in service aces (23), finished third in digs (254),
while compiling a hitting percentage of .195, placing her fourth
on the team.
"Lindsey has done an exceptional job for us over the past
three seasons and we obviously look forward to having her back
again this season," Kiriyama said.
Julie Chambers, a junior, will serve
as Mueller's backup at the setter position. Last year, Chambers
saw action in 19 matches, playing 29 sets. Chambers demonstrated
her quickness on the court, picking up 14 digs in limited action.
The growth of Chambers during her collegiate tenure could prove
crucial for the Bearcats.
"Julie has worked extremely hard and has a lot of training
under her belt from playing spring ball," Kiriyama said.
"We know she will be a reliable back up for Lindsey."
The libero position will be the biggest mystery for coach Kiriyama
in 2010. Brianna Strong, the 2009 libero,
was lost to graduation after admirably filling the shoes of BU
great, Jaclyn Strader. Who will replace
Strong is undecided going into camp but a fierce battle for the
position is expected. Jen Fiorentino
and Kseniia Sukach are two returners
poised to compete for the position while newcomers Xiomara
Ortiz and Jordyn Suhr are also expected
to get a look.
"Replacing our libero will be very tough, so our defense
in the back row could be questionable," Kiriyama said. "We
lost some talented defensive players, so we will be working to
see who will fill in the back line."
Fiorentino, a junior, played in 18 matches, tallying 34 sets
while Sukach, a senior, saw limited action playing just four
sets. Fiorentino showed promise during her playing time creating
scoring opportunities with her digging ability. Fiorentino finished
the season with 33 digs, displaying her capability to move well
on the court.
"We believe Jen can help us at the libero position based
on her experience," Kiriyama said. "Kseniia has worked
diligently to become a better defender. Her service/receive is
one of the strongest on the team and that may be a specialty
for her this season."
Ortiz, a freshman from South Setauket, New York, will provide
depth for the Bearcats on the backline. Ortiz played for the
Long Island Volleyball Academy gaining valuable playing experience.
Suhr made waves for herself playing on the BU club volleyball
team and was a new addition to the squad this past spring.
"Z is a very quick defender and extremely aggressive in
the back row," Kiriyama said. Jordyn is your consummate
team player, who works very hard to improve her game. Both girls
will help rebuild our backline."
The fight for the libero position could result in one person
taking over the reins or having a libero by committee. Either
way, the unproven back row will be eager to show their talents
early in the season.
Kiriyama put together another difficult non-conference schedule
for the Bearcats in 2010. Binghamton will face two NCAA participants
from the 2009 season - Michigan and Niagara, who faced each other
in the first round. Michigan advanced to the NCAA regional finals
before losing to Hawaii. The Bearcats are no strangers to Big
Ten powerhouses, losing to Penn State in both of their NCAA appearances,
(2005,2009). Eight of Binghamton's 15 non-conference opponents
finished the season with a higher RPI ranking.
"The non-conference schedule will be challenging, every
tournament has good competition," Kiriyama said. "Michigan
was a top-10 team last season, advancing to the elite eight and
coming out of the Big Ten, they are Penn State-like, which we
have seen before. Facing three teams out of the competitive Big
East (St. John's, Georgetown and Syracuse), will prepare us for
our America East schedule. The non-conference schedule will answer
a lot of questions for us and we will be able to settle into
a strong lineup for the season."
The Bearcats will start their season at the Rocket Volleyball
Classic, hosted by Toledo where they will face Loyola (Md.),
Michigan and Toledo. Following their trip to Ohio, Binghamton
will take on Dartmouth, Atlantic Sun conference runner-up Jacksonville
and the Northeastern conference runner-up Sacred Heart at the
Sacred Heart Invitational.
Binghamton will to travel to Niagara (Sept. 8) before competing
in their final two tournaments, the UB Blue and White Classic
and Georgetown Classic. The trip to Washington, D.C. features
a matchup against Southern conference regular season champion,
Furman. The Bearcats are slated to travel to Siena (Sept. 22)
and Syracuse (Sept. 29) as they prepare for conference play to
BU's America East schedule commences with a trip to UMBC (Oct.
3) before the team finally plays its first home match against
New Hampshire on Oct. 8. Binghamton will face conference newcomer,
the Providence Friars on Oct. 11 for their second consecutive
home match. The friendly confines of West Gym have been good
to the Bearcats over the past five years, as BU owns a 32-11
(.744) record at home.
For the second straight season Binghamton will have the daunting
task of a home-and-home series with regular season champion,
Albany, in just three days. The two schools first meet in Albany
on Oct. 22 before battling again two days later in Vestal. The
Bearcats exacted revenge for their 2008 conference championship
loss by knocking off the Great Danes in the 2009 title match,
ending their three-year run as America East champions.
The Bearcats close out their conference schedule with Hartford
on Sunday, Nov. 14 before the four-team AE tournament begins
the following weekend at the conference's top seed. BU will look
to advance to the tournament for the seventh consecutive season
and bring home back-to-back championships.
competition gets tougher every year," Kiriyama said. "The
team is focused and looking forward to the conference schedule.
We're not sure what the outcome will be, but we're looking to
end up near the top, if not the top."