Aug. 30, 2005
Despite the departure of an outstanding graduating class that helped Holy Cross to a fifth place finish in the Patriot League, fourth year head coach Chris Ridolfi is very excited about his team and their unselfish attitude which they picked up from the previous class. "Last year I think they learned what they can accomplish when they work toward shared goals," said Ridolfi. "Last year's team didn't care who received the credit and that attitude is already carrying into this season. They don't care who gets the glory, they are just working towards a common goal."
Ridolfi will look to his captain and lone senior, Caitlin O'Callaghan, to keep the team together and to lead by example which she has done her entire career. "Caitlin is the glue that will keep us together and she will make us go," said Ridolfi. "She is one of the best if not the best actual team player that I have ever dealt with. Caitlin is a perfect captain for us this year and we look for real good things from her."
O'Callaghan led the team in total blocks last season with 55 and finished third in kills with 144. "Caitlin has very good blocking technique and is smart when she attacks the ball," said Ridolfi.
With the graduation of Caitlin Agostinacchio, who concluded her Holy Cross career as the all-time leader in career kills, kills per season and kills per game, sophomores Christine Strawson and Meagan Merinder, along with O'Callaghan are expected to lead offensively. Strawson had an impressive freshman season as she was second on the team in kills with 216 and is expected to start this season right where she left off. "Christine is already better than she was as a freshman and she was a big contributor last year," said Ridolfi. "She had a great spring and came back physically stronger. She will lead."
Merinder is expected to be a key player in the middle and Ridolfi sees her as the most improved player from the spring. "Meagan is an intimidating blocker. A strong athlete who is learning how to play the middle position and she is coming along rapidly."
Junior Chrissy Fanning is expected to step right in and be the starter at setter. Fanning had the benefit of playing behind the Holy Cross all-time leader in assists Michelle Leahy for two years gaining valuable knowledge of the position. "A lot of responsibility comes with being the setter and Chrissy is handling it well," said Ridolfi. "She was well coached in high school and has been waiting patiently, so she is ready to make the most of this opportunity."
Junior Valerie Mora is seeing a position change this season as she goes from libero to the right side of the court. "Valerie is a solid all around skilled player and she will do a good job in holding down that side of the court for us," said Ridolfi. Sophomore Katie Fitzpatrick will be the libero this season. "Katie has great defensive skills and is one of our most consistent and intelligent servers."
Ridolfi is excited about his newcomers this year in freshmen Molly Anderson, Kim Sweet and Michelle Dwyer, along with junior track athlete Kaitlyn Mearn. Anderson is expected to contribute right away at outside hitter. "Molly has very good passing skills and she is learning to be a physical presence on the left side," said Ridolfi.
Sweet and Dwyer are expected to bring a lot to the team and are looking to contribute. "Both Kim and Michelle come from solid volleyball backgrounds and have great work ethics so we expect good things from them now and in the future." Mearn brings outstanding athleticism with her as a two sport athlete and is expected to be key in preparing the team for matches.
Ridolfi believes that his scheduling strategy of playing against strong early season competition only helps his team get ready for Patriot League play. He also believes that his team can compete for a spot in the Patriot League tournament. "We need to take care of our home court if we want to make the tournament. I think we will defend well, we'll serve well. And if we can attack intelligently I think we can be a team that sneaks up on some people."
So as the 2005 Crusader volleyball team winds up their preparations for the upcoming season and prepares to take the court for the Crusader Classic on September 2-3, when they host Siena, St. John's and Binghamton, Ridolfi thinks that team chemistry can be the key. "The personality of this team is a strength for us. I think we have real good makeup on the court. We believe that everyone contributes to all the good things that we do all season."