VOLLEYBALL LOOKS TO ADVANCE TO NORTHEAST-10 CHAMPIONSHIP
NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The Merrimack College women's volleyball team enters the 2013 season with high hopes for a successful season and all eyes set on a return to the Northeast-10 Championships for the first time in three seasons.
The Warriors return 10 members from a 2012 squad that posted a five-win turnaround from 2011, and will look to a number of seasoned veterans to continue that improvement this fall. The Navy and Gold will face a challenging slate that starts with a trip to Texas to face some of the top competition in the country before returning to in-region and in-conference action through the remainder of the year.
Anchored by juniors Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.) and Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y.), as well as sophomore Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif.), as well as one of the top recruiting classes ever landed by third-year head coach T.J. Hajjar, the Warriors' hopes have never been higher for the upcoming campaign.
After losing their starting setter from last season, the Warriors will be looking to their veteran setter Allison Cote (Chelmsford, Mass.) to help lead the team to a Northeast-10 Championship. Cote had a tremendous last season ranking second on the team in assists and third in digs. Freshmen Tara Stuhr (Huntington Beach, Calif.) and Madison Creighton (Carlisle, Mass.) hope to make an impact off the bench at the setter position.
Burke's offensive options will include three top returners, Stephanie Sheehan (Smithtown, N.Y.), Jackie Jones (Amherst, N.H.), and Aliya Winker (Arlington, Va.). Sheehan finished third in the Northeast-10 Conference in kills per set (3.38)and also finished second on the team with 288 digs.
The Warriors' second returning outside hitter, Jones, will also be a key contributor at the net. She ranked fourth on the team with 156 kills and 15 service aces. Finally, Winker, posted 42 kills, 11 assists, and 18 blocks last season. Looking to make an impact in their first season, freshmen Juliette McCall (Torrance, Calif.), Jocelyn McLain (Fort Collins, Colo.), and Jennifer Cain (Melrose, Mass.).
A team's defense often starts at the net with the middle blockers and leading the Warriors in the middle this season will be junior Corrine Gosselin (Lawrence, Mass.). Last year, she ranked second on the team in blocks and third in kills. She continued to improve in the offseason and should again be a force at the net in 2013.
Sophomore Katie Cronin (Methuen, Mass.), will also be a key component to the Warriors' success in the blocking department. To help anchor the Warriors' backrow defensively will be sophomore Madison Burke (San Jose, Calif.). She finished her first campaign averaging a team-high 3.91 digs per set while playing in a team-high 113 sets.
Junior Taciane Santos (Everett, Mass.) is expected to continue her role as the team's defensive specialist this season. Returners Katie Wilcox (Pembroke, Mass.) and Hannah Pavlik (Monument, Colo.) will bring additional experience to the defensive end this season.
The Warrior's season officially opens on Friday, September 6 when they travel to Texas to attend the Hilltopper-Rattler Classic. First match is set for 2 p.m. against St. Edwards and 6 p.m. vs. Adams State.