NORTH ANDOVER, MA – The Merrimack women's volleyball team will open up their 2012 season in Florida for the Sharks Classic which will consist of five other teams, the host Nova Southeastern Sharks, Texas A&M International, Wayne State, Lynn and Wheeling Jesuit.
Under the guidance of second-year head coach TJ Hajjar the warriors will open up play on Friday afternoon at 1 p.m. as they will take on Nova Southeastern. Merrimack will then take on Wayne State at 3 p.m. to close out the first day of the Sharks Classic.
Merrimack has fared well in recent opening weekends, posting a .500 record or better in four of the last five years.
The Warriors, who were picked to finish 13th according to the Northeast-10 Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, return everyone except one player from last year's squad. In 2011, the Warriors finished the season with an overall record of 5-22, including a 2-13 conference mark.
Nova Southeastern, meanwhile, was picked to finish eighth in the Sunshine State Conference after going 8-20 with an 4-12 mark within the conference last year. Wayne State was tabbed to finish fifth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings after posting a 14-14 overall record including a 10-9 conference mark last season.
The Warriors will be looking for some major contributions from three sophomores as Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, NY), Allison Cote (Chelmsford, Mass.) and Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) look to build on their strong play during their first year of collegiate volleyball. The lone junior on the team this year, Jackie Jones (Amherst, NH), will be relied on offensively to make an impact as well.
The Warriors senior class, Jenna Reilly (Northport, NY), Brianna Trabucco (Canton, Mass.) and Shaunda Forcier (Gonic, NH), will look to lead Merrimack to a conference championship in 2012. Reilly is coming off of a junior campaign in which she led the Warriors in blocks with 83 and second in kills with 214. Trabucco led the Warriors with a career-high 695 assists while Forcier ranked fourth on the team with 158 digs.
Three Warrior newcomers will also be making their collegiate debuts on Friday as Hannah Pavlik (Monument, CO), Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif.) and Katie Cronin (Methuen, Mass.) look to contribute on the defensive side of the court.
The Warriors will close out the Sixth-Annual Sharks Classic in Fort Lauderdale with a 9 a.m. matchup against Lynn and a 1 p.m. match against Texas A&M International.