By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross volleyball team is gearing up for the 2012 campaign as it returns 13 players from the 2011 season (10-21 overall, 6-8 Patriot League) that saw it tie for its most Patriot League wins in school history. Holy Cross also returns four seniors and two juniors who have led to the recent success of the team as the Crusaders' 22 wins over the last two seasons are their most over a two-year period in over 10 years. The Crusaders also have a talented group of seven sophomores and one freshman. Holy Cross will be looking to start this season where it left off last year as the Crusaders concluded 2011 with three straight Patriot League victories and just missed earning a bid to the Patriot League Tournament by finishing one match out of fourth place. With all of this experience and talent, Holy Cross will look to qualify for the four-team Patriot League Tournament for the first time in program history.
The Crusaders will start the season by hosting the first day of the Beanpot Classic at the Holy Cross Field House on Aug. 24, as they will take on SEC opponent Alabama at 11:00 a.m. and two-time defending NEC champion Sacred Heart at 7:00 p.m. Holy Cross is scheduled to play 30 regular season matches, including 11 at the Holy Cross Field House.
Recently, second-year Holy Cross head volleyball coach Erin Cady talked to GoHolyCross.com as the team prepares for the 2012 season.
GoHolyCross: The team returns a lot of experience and depth, including a number of individuals who have played in big matches. How can the team use this experience to lead to a successful season?
Erin Cady: We are excited to have players with game experience. Their comfort on the court will allow us to further focus on our opponents and execute game strategies.
GoHolyCross: Is there a huge sense of excitement from the team to start the season?
Cady: Yes, the players are excited to get back on the court! They have been working hard all summer and want to put that hard work to use.
GoHolyCross: Defensively the team was strong last year as it ranked third in the Patriot League in digs and greatly improved in blocking as it posted the most blocks per set since the 2002 season. What is the key for the team to continue its strong play defensively?
Cady: Our key is to remain a defensive unit. We need to focus on keeping our blockers and back row defensive players on the same page.
Cady: Lynch and Watters will be a big part of our success this year. They are great leaders on and off the court. They are willing to put in the extra time and energy to make their senior season one to remember.
GoHolyCross: Your four seniors of Liz Ashton (Milford, Mass.), Callie Black (Fallon, Nev.), Lynch and Watters have all been major contributors to the team over the last three seasons. What have they meant to the program and what do you expect of them this season?
Cady: Our seniors will do a great job leading the team and showing their dedication to the program. Our program has grown and seen some great changes because of our senior class. This season we expect them to bring back to the program that same hard work they have been contributing for three years.
GoHolyCross: Lynch enters the season ranked second all-time at Holy Cross with 1,218 career kills and seventh with 919 career digs. She is just 29 kills away from setting a new school record. She is one of only two players in program history to record over 1,000 kills and 900 digs and will look to be the first ever to post 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. What makes her such an outstanding player?
Cady: Lynch is the type of player that thrives in competition. Her mental strength combined with her physical abilities make her an all-around successful player.
GoHolyCross: Watters has been one of the strongest defensive players in program history as she enters the season ranked sixth all-time at Holy Cross with 928 career digs. What does she bring to the team on the court that is so important?
Cady: Watters' best quality is her excellent ability to organize our serve reception and defense. Not only is she a great individual player but she makes our team defense stronger.
GoHolyCross: Black has been such a strong force at the net over her career. How does her strong play help the team?
Cady: Callie is known for coming up with big blocks that help shift the momentum on the team. Her blocks combined with her steady offense will greatly contribute to our team success.
GoHolyCross: Ashton has also been a really strong player at the net. What does she bring to the team?
Cady: Ashton brings another element that you will not see in the statistics. Her positive attitude, high energy and overall love of the game make her teammates play at a higher level.
GoHolyCross: What do you see as a strength of the team?
Cady: Our strength this year is our dedication to improvement. The players are constantly challenging each other and pushing the team to play better. They always want extra reps and work hard to succeed.