Volleyball Finalists Albany & UMBC Predicted To Finish At The Top Again
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The 2010 America East Regular-Season and Tournament Champion University at Albany edged out 2010 runner-up UMBC for the top spot in the 2011 America East Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Both teams received three first-place votes each, however the Great Danes garnered 33 points to the Retrievers’ 31 points.
Binghamton University took home the last of the seven first-place votes to finish with 25 points for third-place in the poll, while Stony Brook University (23 points) claimed the fourth spot. University of New Hampshire (15), University of Hartford (14) and Providence College (6) rounded out the seven-team poll.
The top four teams during the regular season will compete at the 2011 America East Volleyball Championship on either November 18-19 or November 19-20. The top seed will host the tournament, with the winner earning an automatic berth into the NCAA Championship.
Albany (22-9 overall record, 10-2 America East record in 2010) will win its sixth conference crown in eight years if the coaches’ poll holds true at the end of the 2011 season. The Great Danes lose Player of the Year outside hitter Teresa Coppiellie to graduation, but will return a former Player of the Year when setter Brooke Stanley (Hendersonville, N.C./West Henderson) returns to the court after missing last season due to injury. Stanley earned both player and setter of the year honors as a junior in 2009 after averaging 10.66 assists, 2.87 digs and 0.31 aces per set. Albany’s top returning point-getter is senior middle blocker Casey Wright (Ballston Spa, N.Y./Ballston Spa), a 2010 first-team all-conference honoree who averaged 3.30 kills and 1.04 blocks per set while leading the conference with a .344 hitting percentage. Three-time Defensive Specialist of the Year Laurie Gonzalez (Carolina, Puerto Rico/St. Francis School) returns for her senior campaign after finishing 2010 with a league-best 5.16 digs per set.
UMBC (12-17, 7-5) reached the 2010 title tilt against Albany with a young squad, and has another underclassman-laden team on hand for 2011. Middle blocker Iman Kennedy (Charlotte, N.C./Independence) and setter Allie Spaay (Kenosha, Wis./Kenosha Tremper) hope to become the first Retriever senior class to make the America East Championship all four years. Kennedy finished second in America East with 1.05 blocks per set, while Spaay averaged 9.45 assists and 3.22 digs per set to earn all-conference second-team recognition. UMBC’s two outside hitter all-rookie selections, Hallie Carter (Huntington Beach, Calif./Edison) and Ali Goc (Oshawa, Ontario/R.S. McLaughlin Collegiate), hope to continue making valuable contributions as sophomores.
Binghamton (14-14, 9-3) lose two first-team all-conference outside hitters, but welcomes six newcomers into the fold in 2011. Senior setter Julie Chambers (Nichols, N.Y./Tioga) led America East with 9.82 assists per set a year ago and hopes to extend the Bearcats’ streak of seven-straight America East Championship appearances, the second-longest streak in the conference. Junior middle blocker Alex Roland (Austin, Texas/Austin), who finished fifth in the league in blocks, and all-rookie libero Xiomara Ortiz (South Setauket, N.Y./Ward Melville), who recorded 4.17 digs per set in 2010, add experience to the Binghamton roster.
Stony Brook (11-18, 6-6) returns senior swing hitter Alicia Nelson (Apple Valley, Minn./Eastview), a first-team All-America East pick after she finished second in the league with 3.81 kills per set. Nelson and 2010 America East Rookie of the Year Evann Slaughter (Clinton, Md./Oxon Hill) both ranked among conference leaders in hitting percentage. Slaughter, a middle blocker, finished her rookie season as Stony Brook’s third-highest point-getter, while ranking sixth in America East with 0.81 blocks per set.
New Hampshire (10-17, 5-7) welcomes back both of its top two hitting threats from last year in seniors Lauren Laquerre (Concord, N.H./Concord) and Amy Keding (Northbrook, Ill./Glenbrook North). Laquerre led the team with 3.36 kills per set, while Keding earned all-conference second-team honors with 2.97 kills, 2.08 digs and 0.63 blocks per set. All-rookie selection sophomore Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich./Notre Dame Prep) played in 25 of 27 matches and ranked sixth among league-leaders in blocks (0.77 bps).
Hartford (8-21, 3-9) had a much-improved season a year ago, which included breaking Albany’s conference-match winning streak, earning head coach Don Ferguson his first career America East Coach of the Year award. Ferguson returns valuable players from last year’s team, including junior outside hitter Kami Nethersole (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y./Hendrick Hudson), a second-team all-conference pick (3.04 kps), and sophomore outside hitter Dionna Kirton (Everett, Wash./King’s; 2.07 kps, 2.47 dps).
Providence (10-23, 2-10) joined America East as an associate member prior to the 2010 season and senior middle blocker Lauren Fletcher (Syracuse, N.Y./Marcellus) has already put up impressive stats. As a second-team all-conference member last year, Fletcher led America East in points (4.69 pps) with 3.69 kills and a league-leading 1.17 blocks per set. A six-member freshman class will join Fletcher and the Friars this year.
2011 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Total
1. Albany (3) 33
2. UMBC (3) 31
3. Binghamton (1) 25
4. Stony Brook 23
5. New Hampshire 15
6. Hartford 14
7. Providence 6