Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Volleyball Preview: Can The Fords Repeat?

pictured: Elly Gosheva, Dickinson

It was a dream season for Haverford volleyball in 2006 with a first-ever Centennial championship ... a first-ever trip to the NCAAs ... and a first-ever victory at the "big dance." Now the question on the Main Line is what do the Fords do for an encore?

Haverford wears the target as the preseason Conference favorite in a poll of Centennial coaches, outdistancing runner-up Franklin & Marshall by a single first-place ballot and three points. Three All-CC performers are back in the fold, including first-team selection and honorable mention All-America choice Rebecca Salvo (La Canada, CA / Flintridge Sacred Heart). Twin sister Rachel was an honorable mention All-CC pick and the duo combined for 7.17 kills per game. Second-team All-Centennial setter Emily Hinchcliff (Ithaca, NY / Ithaca) is the key to the offense.

Franklin & Marshall captured the regular-season title and reached the Centennial final before being blanked by Haverford. Five starters return in a quest to capture the Conference title for the first time since 2000, including 2006 Centennial Player of the Year Margot Phelan (Ellicott City, MD / Centennial). MH Susan Taylor (The Woodlands, TX / John Cooper) and OH Maritza Fair (Bronx, NY / The Nightingale-Bamford School) earned first and second-team All-CC honors, respectively.

Gettysburg's five-year reign atop the Conference came to an end in the Centennial semifinals a year ago. Incentive for 2007 ... you betcha! The Bullets welcome back four All-CC selections, including first-teamers Lauren Thul (Flemington, NJ / Hunterdon Central) and Amanda Krampf (Gaithersburg, MD / Gaithersburg) at hitter and setter, respectively. Katie Heffner (Easton, PA / Easton) and Meghan McConville (Eldersburg, MD / Liberty) were honorable mention honorees.

Johns Hopkins looks to replace four seniors from a squad that just missed the CC playoffs last season. Amanda Lewis (San Antonio, TX / St. Mary's Hall) will lead the Blue Jays from her setter position after earning honorable mention All-Centennial honors a year ago.

Dickinson qualified for the Centennial tournament a year ago and looks for its first-ever Final Four berth in 2007. Sophomore Elly Gosheva (Sofia, Bulgaria) was a second-team All-Conference hitter last season, setting a program record for rookies with 372 kills. McDaniel returns five starters from last season's team that made the CC semis. Senior Katie Seibel (Finksburg, MD / Westminster) was an honorable mention All-Centennial hitter, while soph Taylor Herrgott (Derwood, MD / Magruder) could have a breakout season after averaging 3.00 kills per game as a rookie.

Swarthmore welcomes back five starters, including senior hitter Karen Berk (Havertown, PA / Haverford), a two-sport standout who also excels in basketball. Muhlenberg graduated five seniors but hopes that the experience gained from the seven freshmen on the 2006 roster pays dividends in 2007. Megan Young (Coatesville, PA / Coatesville) and Megan Eiser (Doylestown, PA / Central Bucks West) will lead the Mules. Washington's Katherine O'Brien (Severna Park, MD / Severna Park), a second-team All-Centennial hitter, was the first Shorewomen to earn All-CC honors since 1998. She led the Conference in kills per game (4.37).

Ursinus looks to senior Jill Alspach (Farmington Hills, MI / Farmington) to lead the Bears this fall, while Bryn Mawr turns to senior Katie Kronbergs (Austin, TX / Lyndon B. Johnson) and junior Julia Harris (Newbury Park, CA / Newbury Park) as the Owls look to make noise in the Conference in 2007.

AVCA Preview

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