By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
Second-year Holy Cross volleyball coach Marritt Cafarchia is looking forward to start of the 2009 season and is excited about her team. "The team has a huge sense of excitement to start the season," said Cafarchia. "We had success this past spring and the team is very motivated. I saw a lot of player improvement during the spring as well as great team chemistry."
The Crusaders return eight players including five starters and their libero, while they also welcome five freshmen to the program. Cafarchia sees the team's defense and serving as major strengths. "I saw a lot of defensive improvement during the spring season," said Cafarchia. "A lot of balls that were falling are now being picked up. Our entire defensive scheme has changed as now we have great individual players and we want them to stand out."
Juniors Angela Chisholm and Chelsey O'Donnell will serve as team co-captains this season. "They are both very vocal leaders," said Cafarchia. "Angela and Chelsey are both very intense and want this program to excel. They understand my vision of where I want this program to be and they want to lead us there. They are close to all of their teammates. I think we will be a very vocal team this year under their leadership."
Chisholm had a big season last year as the team's libero as she led the Crusaders with a career-best 241 digs and a career-best 3.21 digs per set. She also ranked fifth in the Patriot League for digs per set and had 15 matches with double-digit digs. O'Donnell, who enters the season ranked fifth all-time at Holy Cross with 1,485 career assists, had eight double-doubles last year and 594 assists. She was also strong defensively as her 182 digs and 25 blocks were third on the team.
Meredith Beatrice and Samantha Surface will be looking to have strong senior seasons. "These two seniors have a lot of history with this program," said Cafarchia. "They are both calm players who have great composure on the court, especially during clutch situations. They understand how to be that solid rock for us."
Beatrice, who was named to the Patriot League Academic Honor Roll last season, has 163 career kills and 63 career blocks as she provides a key presence at the net as a middle hitter. Surface, who led the team with a career-best 209 kills last year, is expected to have another strong year offensively and also continue where she left off defensively, as she ranked fourth on the team with a career-best 161 digs. She enters the season with 485 kills, 298 digs and 63 blocks for her career.
Junior Rebecca DeSanti is also expected to be strong at the net. She is coming off a season with a career-best 68 kills and 19 assists. Also, junior outside hitter and defensive specialist Kate Ginsbach will be looking to build on her first collegiate season and strengthen the defense of the team.
The sophomore class of Kathleen Colpoys and Libby Malloy are expected to take what they learned as freshmen and have solid sophomore seasons. "I think the sophomores will have fantastic seasons," said Cafarchia. "They have made great strides with their individual skills. After watching the sophomore class play this spring I am very excited to see how they play this fall."
Colpoys is expected to provide an offensive spark and to also be strong defensively this year. She had an impressive freshman season as she ranked third on the team with 98 kills and was second with 27 blocks. Malloy had a solid rookie season as she was fifth on the team with 16 blocks, while she also had 60 kills.
Freshmen Liz Ashton, Callie Black, Andrea Davis, Megan Lynch and Elizabeth Watters are expected to contribute right away. "I expect a lot from this freshman class," said Cafarchia. "I expect them to compete right away and to get on the court and be big players for us."
Ashton was a three-year member of the varsity volleyball team at Milford H.S. and had 726 career kills and 308 career blocks. As a senior she earned 2008 All-State honors, was named the Mid-Wach A MVP and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette Player of the Year. Black was a three-year member of the varsity volleyball team at Churchill County H.S., while she earned 2008 team MVP honors and was a member of the 2008 All-Sierra Nevada team. She had 340 career kills and 497 career blocks.
Davis was a three-year member of the varsity volleyball team at Longmeadow H.S. and was a member of the 2008 Springfield Republican's Super Seven. She set the school record for career kills with 478 and set the single-season kills record with 260 during the 2008 season, while she set single-game records with 26 kills and 35 digs. She also had 587 career digs and 99 career service aces. Lynch was a four-year member of the varsity volleyball team at Mendham H.S. and was named the 2008 Daily Record All-Area Player of the Year, and earned 2008 PrepVolleyball.com "Highest Honorable Mention" All-American honors. She set the school record for career kills with 875 and the record for career aces with 141, while she set the single-season kills record with 375 during the 2008 season. Watters was a two-year member of the varsity volleyball team at St. Ignatius College Preparatory School and earned 2008 All-City accolades.
Cafarchia also believes that the depth of the team has been greatly improved. "We now have a lot of depth," said Cafarchia. "This means we will be able to have great competition during practice which is very important for the success of the team."
The Crusaders will play their season-opener at home versus Providence (Sept. 2). Another big part of the early season schedule will be the Crusaders hosting the Beanpot Classic (Sept. 12) featuring matches versus Northeastern and Boston College. Holy Cross will begin the Patriot League season with away matches against Colgate (Sept. 25) and Bucknell (Sept. 26).