By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2010 Holy Cross volleyball team returns 10 of 12 players from a 2009 team (5-24, 3-11 Patriot League) that earned the most overall and Patriot League wins by a Crusader team since the 2006 season. Holy Cross also improved in every major statistical category from the 2008 season. With the momentum of a successful spring season and the addition of two talented freshmen, the Crusaders are ready to make a lot of noise in the Patriot League this season.
Third-year head coach Marritt Cafarchia is happy with the strides the program has made and looks forward to making even bigger strides this season. Cafarchia saw a lot of improvement during the spring that will help the Crusaders have a successful season. "We worked a lot this spring on serving, passing and our hitting percentage," said Cafarchia. "We want to make sure that we are not giving points away and that we are earning points. The team has gained a lot of ball control and they have gained confidence. Instead of being on the defense, we are now on the attack. We are running an efficient offense that is really quick, so our offense is exciting to watch and makes the game so much faster."
The Crusaders had a very successful spring season as Cafarchia is expecting this success to carry over to the fall. "The spring season is a lot different than the fall season, but you can still gain a lot of confidence and that is what we did as we won a lot of games," said Cafarchia. "The team is going to report to preseason knowing that we can win."
Holy Cross, who lost all five matches last season that went to five sets, has taken steps to win those close matches. "We want to become the team that wins five-set matches," said Cafarchia. "We now have clutch players. When we are in tight situations I know we can pull off the win. That is a great feeling to have as a coach. I am really confident in every player that we can win the close matches."
Cafarchia is very happy with the attitude of the team. "The team is very excited for the season which makes my job so much easier," said Cafarchia. "With everyone already so excited to get started; now I can just coach them as compared to having to convince them that we can be successful. They now know that we can be successful."
Cafarchia sees the strength of the team as its serving, passing and now new offense. "The newest strength we have is our quick offense," said Cafarchia. "We have a lot of middle hitters shifting to different positions which is very hard to defend against."
Seniors Angela Chisholm (Millis, Mass.) and Chelsey O'Donnell (Pittsburgh, Pa.) will serve as team captains for the second straight season. "They are both great leaders and great people," said Cafarchia. "They bring a lot to the court. What is also good for the team is that they have different leadership styles. Chelsey leads by example and drives our team to be successful. Angela is a real positive vocal leader and always makes sure that all of the details are taken care of. They both believe in our program and what we have built."
The senior class of Chisholm, Rebecca DeSanti (Hampden, Mass.), Kate Ginsbach (Hot Springs, S.D.) and O'Donnell will be key to the success of the team. "I arrived here during their freshman spring season," said Cafarchia. "So they are very special to me. It is sad that they will be leaving but it is also so exciting because they have been an integral part of creating this culture of positive energy, forward moving and hard work. They have put so much work into this program so I'm really excited to see their drive and their leadership this season because they want to win so badly."
O'Donnell, who has been a starter as a setter her entire Holy Cross career, enters her senior season second all-time at Holy Cross with 2,378 career assists. "Chelsey is a fantastic setter," said Cafarchia who was also a four-year starter as a setter at UC Davis. "Her jumping ability and her leadership ability are very special. I recruit a lot of players and you don't just find a player like that. She is a very special player. I was a setter at UC Davis, so I have told her everything I know about the position and I am really tough on her. She knows exactly what I want from that position. She runs a very quick offense. She is always in the air jump setting and she can run down any ball."
Chisholm is coming off a season in which she was fourth in the Patriot League with 360 digs. "We call Angela the captain of the defense," said Cafarchia "She reads the hitter and blocker really well. She knows our defense so well that she is good at moving people around. It is nice to have someone out there with so much knowledge and desire because defense is about an attitude."
DeSanti recorded a career-best 101 kills last season and will be looking to have a strong senior season. "Rebecca brings intensity to a match," said Cafarchia "She is always getting touches on the block. Her swing and her ball control have improved. I'm very excited to see what she will bring as a senior."
Ginsbach, who missed her junior season due to an injury, brings energy. "Kate brings hustle to the court," said Cafarchia. "She will run down any ball. She is also a great passer."
Sophomore Megan Lynch (Mendham, N.J.) had the most successful season for a Crusader freshman in the Patriot League era. She earned second team All-Patriot League honors to become the first Crusader freshman to receive All-Patriot League accolades, while she was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice as she became only the second Crusader to earn that award. Lynch had 371 kills for the second most at Holy Cross for a single-season and the most ever by a freshman, while she ranked second in the league in kills and kills per set (3.53). She was not only a major factor offensively, but she was also strong defensively as she ranked second on the team with 233 digs.
Lynch also has the great ability to be able to keep the team in a match. "She gets a kill when you think there is no way to get a kill," said Cafarchia. "There are double blocks on her all of the time but she finds a way to get through them. In the second round of league play people stopped double blocking her because it wasn't working. She has a great ability to see the court. Her serving also improved a lot this spring. She is an exciting all-around player."
Last season, junior Kathleen Colpoys (Scituate, Mass.) ranked second on the team with a career-best 205 kills and a career-best 49 blocks, while she led the team with a .258 hitting percentage. She is tough for opponents' defenses to stop. "Kathleen is really hard to block because her swing is so quick," said Cafarchia. "She has worked on a lot of other things this spring which will make her even tougher to stop."
Junior Libby Malloy (Stratford, Conn.), who also missed some time last season because of an injury, is looking to have a strong junior season. "Libby is a great passer," said Cafarchia. "She is also strong offensively because she jumps high, making it difficult to contain her."
Sophomore Liz Ashton (Milford, Mass.) is coming off a strong spring season. "She improved so much in the spring," said Cafarchia. "Her blocking and swinging are amazing. I look for her to be a key component this fall."
Sophomore Callie Black (Fallon, Nev.) was a force at the net last season as she led the team with 58 total blocks which were the most by a Crusader since the 2006 season. "Callie is very important to us because she closes every block," said Cafarchia "The defense forms around that block. She was also very good offensively this spring. We are excited to move her around this season."
Sophomore Elizabeth Watters (San Francisco, Calif.) had a strong freshman season as she ranked fifth on the team with 191 digs. "The main thing Elizabeth brings is energy on the court," said Cafarchia. "She plays amazing middle back defense. She runs down everything. She is also very important to the offense with her strong serve."
The Crusaders welcome freshmen Alex Aycock (Jonesboro, Ark.) and Christiana Blakeslee (Ashtabula, Ohio) to the program. Aycock was a three-year member and senior captain of the varsity volleyball team at Jonesboro H.S. in Jonesboro, Ark. She was named the Arkansas Activities Association 6A State MVP. Blakeslee was a three-year member and senior captain of the varsity volleyball team at Lakeside H.S. and is from Ashtabula, Ohio. As a junior she earned first team All-County and All-Conference honors. "Alex and Christiana are both great players who have a lot of confidence," said Cafarchia. "I expect them to come here to make this program better. They bring a lot of playing experience from a high level and I expect them to contribute immediately."
With this great mix of veteran experience and leadership, and a group of talented underclassmen, the 2010 Crusaders will be a tough team to defeat this season.