HOBOKEN, N.J. (August 30, 2012) – The Stevens Institute of Technology women’s volleyball team begins its 2012 season on August 31 against SUNY Geneseo at the New York University Tournament for a two-day event and will play four matches on the opening weekend. The Ducks are coming off a 15-23 (5-2 E8) record last year, its only sub-.500 record since 2001, and looks to rebound in a strong way with a core group of returning upperclassmen and a brand new head coach at the helm.
Stevens will be led into the 33-match grind by first year head coach Glenn DeHaven. DeHaven joins the Castle Point community after spending two seasons as an assistant at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky. where the Pioneers posted a 45-19 overall record. DeHaven becomes the fourth women’s volleyball coach at Stevens in the program’s 26-year history.
Before his stint at Transylvania, DeHaven coached for three seasons at his alma mater, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pa. as a men’s assistant from 2008-10. In 2009, the Eagles claimed the Molten National Championship and three student-athletes earned All-America honors while DeHaven was on the sidelines.
As a student-athlete at Juniata, DeHaven was a four-year starter from 2003-07 and was on four Molten National Championship teams.
DeHaven embraces the challenge of a turnaround season and said “although this is my first season at Stevens, I’m looking forward to a bounce back year from 2011. We will need the upperclassmen to step up in leadership roles to make the newcomers accustomed to the collegiate level.”
On the court, the Ducks return senior outside hitter and three-time All-American Maggie Kowalska (Edison, N.J.). Kowalska paced the Ducks in 2011 with 456 kills, 312 digs and 61 service aces, while her 89 total blocks ranked second on the squad. She also became just the fourth women’s volleyball student-athlete to eclipse 1,000 career kills last year and broke the school’s single season points mark with 570.5.
With another similar season to 2011, Kowalska will become the program’s all-time leader in kills, block assists, total blocks and points.
A trio of juniors also return for the Ducks in setter Samantha Gates (Wilmington, N.C.), outside hitter Mary Caulson (West Islip, N.Y.) and libero Hannah Gasper (Bourne, Mass.). Gates was the Ducks’ primary setter last season and handed out 802 assists in 115 sets played to go along with 46 aces. Caulson was third on the team last year with 178 kills, while her 275 digs was second-best. Gasper started all 38 matches in 2011 from her back row position and registered 211 digs and 36 aces.
Sophomore outside hitter/middle blocker Katie Hall (Midlothian, Va.) is coming off a solid first year with the Ducks after posting 117 kills, 57 digs and 25 blocks in 89 sets. Two other sophomores will compete for playing time this season in Kirsten Salmins (Wyckoff, N.J.) and Michelle Cloutier (Tuxedo, N.Y.) who combined to play in 77 sets last year.
Stevens welcomes a slew of newcomers to the 2012 squad, all of which will vie for playing time. Fifth-year senior Jillian Barrett (Philadelphia, Pa.) will finish up her undergraduate career on the volleyball court, and add height in the middle at 5-feet 11-inches, after a superb career as a basketball player for Stevens.
Five freshmen will step onto the court for the first time as collegiate players and challenge the returners for time on the hardwood.Kristen Herchenroder (Breezy Point, N.Y.), Sarah LeClerc (Fairfield, Conn.), Annemarie Thomas (Durham, N.C.), Catie Shelton (Central Square, N.Y.) and Alanna Zappariello (Minotola, N.J.) will all don the Cardinal and Gray for the first time in 2012.
The Ducks finished third in the Empire 8 Conference in 2011, where they are picked to finish again this season, and with the addition of Houghton College, will play in three crossovers in 2012. Hartwick College hosts the first round of crossover play in Oneonta, N.Y. on September 22, before the eight New York schools travel to Hoboken for the second go-around on October 5 and 6. Utica College holds the third and final crossover where the postseason seeds will be determined on October 20 and 21 on Utica, N.Y.
Heading into the start of the year, DeHaven feels that “early success will determine how the team picks up new concepts as the season goes on.”
With the opening tournament on the horizon, Stevens will be tested early by the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Salisbury University and SUNY New Paltz this upcoming weekend at New York University.
Another tough test awaits the Ducks on the following weekend in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in a tri-match hosted by Vassar College with NYU on the 8th. Stevens will play its first home matches of the season on September 14 and 15 in the annual Ducks Classic against Buffalo State College, York College (Pa.), FDU-Florham and Swarthmore College.
After the first E8 crossover, the Ducks play fifth-straight home matches. On September 26, Haverford College steps on the floor for a single match at 7:30 p.m., and then the Ducks Invite gets underway on the 28th and 29th. NYU-Poly, U.S. Coast Guard Academy, Baruch College and Empire 8 rival Elmira College will be present for the Invite.
On October 5 and 6, Stevens takes on Elmira, Alfred University and Houghton for the home crossover. The final home match of the season takes place on the 12th against Hunter College before the Ducks hit the road for the final two weeks of the regular season.
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