Aug. 20, 2008
By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The 2008 season marks the beginning of a new era for Holy Cross volleyball, as head coach Marritt Cafarchia enters her first season as the leader of the Crusaders. "I am very excited for my first season at Holy Cross," said Cafarchia, who joins the Crusaders after leading Tufts to a 19-3 record as its acting head coach in 2007. "The team and I had a great spring season. You can expect a new type of play as we will be loud, scrappy and feisty."
Holy Cross returns eight players from last year (4-24, 1-13 Patriot League), including three starters and its returning libero, while it also welcomes six newcomers to the team. The Crusaders are expected to be aggressive this year which was displayed during their successful spring season. "I was very happy with the spring season," said Cafarchia. "I saw the girls grow a lot. Mostly with their mental attitude and the way each player plays the game. The team during the spring learned how to be and how to stay loud. They also became very aggressive on the court. I look forward to the fall and seeing the team continue to progress in our aggressive style of play."
Cafarchia sees the team's attitude as being one of its major strengths. "This team is dedicated to each other 100 percent," said Cafarchia. "They hustle non stop and they always want to be in the gym getting better."
The Crusaders are expected to be a strong serving, receiving, passing and defensive team. Recently Holy Cross has usually been near the top of the league in digs which, with a talented group of defenders, should continue this year. "I expect us to be in the top of the league in defense," said Cafarchia. "We have some great defenders and I only see the numbers getting better."
Holy Cross will look to the leadership of Molly Anderson who is the only senior on the team. She brings a huge amount of experience as she has played in every match and every game that the Crusaders have played during the last three years. Anderson is coming off a spectacular junior season as the libero in which her 3.72 digs per game ranked third on the Holy Cross all-time single-season list and her 350 digs ranked fifth. She was also fourth in the Patriot League in digs per game. Anderson enters her senior year ranked fifth on the school's all-time career digs list with 900. "Molly is a leader on and off the court," said Cafarchia. "To have her experience is invaluable and I can not wait to watch her lead the team to new heights."
Cafarchia, who was a four-year starter as a setter and a three-year captain at UC Davis, uses that experience of being in charge of a team on the court in her coaching. "My experience as a setter helps me see the whole picture of the team well," said Cafarchia. "It keeps me aware of the rhythm I want out on the court. I think it also puts some emphasis on the way I coach my setters. I am very hard on my setters, but I think they love it. I want to make sure they are seeing the opponent's strategies and exposing their weaknesses."
Sophomore setter Chelsey O'Donnell is the type of setter that Cafarchia wants on her team. O'Donnell had an outstanding rookie season as her 891 assists ranked second on the Holy Cross all-time single-season list and her 9.48 assists per game ranked third, while she also led the Patriot League in assists by freshmen. "Chelsey is a phenomenal setter," said Cafarchia. "She brings a lot of intensity to the court. I am very glad she is only a sophomore. Chelsey is a leader on the court and she does a great job of creating one-on-one hitting situations for her hitters."
Junior outside hitter Liz Auger is expected to be a major force offensively as her 269 kills a year ago ranked second on the team and are the most from any returning player. She also ranked 15th in the Patriot League in kills per game. Junior Samantha Surface will also be a key to the success of the team offensively as her 187 kills in 2007 were third on the team. She will also be expected to be strong at the net as last year she was third on the team with a career-best 30 total blocks. Junior middle hitter Meredith Beatrice will be a key factor in the success of the team, especially as a blocker. Her career-best 32 total blocks from a year ago are the most by any returning player and ranked second on the team. Junior Liz Campbell is coming off a solid season in which she played in 25 matches and had a career best 50 digs. She is expected to contribute as an outside hitter and as a defensive specialist.
Sophomore Angela Chisholm saw a lot of court time as a freshman and will look to use that experience this year. She is expected to be a major contributor, especially defensively as her 1.72 digs per game last season ranked fourth on the team. Sophomore outside hitter Rebecca DeSanti is expected to contribute offensively, as the team will need her to provide offense on the outside.