BABSON PARK, Mass.—Coming off the program's first trip to the NCAA Tournament regional finals with a team of all underclassmen, expectations are high for the Babson College women's volleyball program entering the 2018 campaign.
HOLD ON WAIT A MINUTE, YA'LL THOUGHT I WAS FINISHED
Head coach Eric Neely, who enters his eighth season in charge of the program, returns all 14 players from a team that finished 22-10 overall after suffering a four-set loss to Ithaca in the final of the Potsdam Regional last November. The Beavers, who finished at 22-10 overall, tied for second in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) regular season standings at 8-2 and defeated Vassar and Clarkson in their third NCAA appearance in four years.
HITTING THEIR SPOTS
Sophomore Allie Puccio (New Hartford, N.Y.), senior Shannon Roseen (Malden, Mass.) and junior Kristin Carosotto (East Greenwich, R.I.) all averaged better than two kills per set while combining to hit at a .217 clip last year. Puccio's (3.15 k/s, 1.53 d/s) 365 kills were good for the third most in school history, Roseen set new career highs in kills (213), kills per set (2.57) and hitting percentage (.234), and Carosotto was second on the squad in kills (236) to go along with a team-best 79 blocks.
Junior Elizabeth Cameron (El Dorado Hills, Calif.) set a new single-season program record with 1,004 assists over 31 matches in 2017 on the way to becoming the first All-America honorable mention honor in Babson history. In addition to averaging 9.30 assists per set, she also contributed 1.00 kills per set, 2.18 digs and 0.50 blocks. Although she's played just 62 career matches, Cameron already ranks fourth in school history with 1,861 assists.
SHRINKING THE COURT
The Green and White has a deep and experienced group of defensive specialists led by senior Abby Beecher (Pittsford, N.Y.), who averaged a team-high 4.46 digs per set last year. Sophomore Cassidy Witten (Honolulu, Hawaii) was second on the squad in both digs (261) and digs per set (2.27), while senior Lauren Hennigan (West Chester, Pa.) and sophomore Erica Schwegman (Birmingham, Mich.) both saw time during key points of Babson's NCAA Tournament run.
PRESENCE AT THE NET
Senior Catherine Hunter (Duxbury, Mass.) and sophomores Gaby Miller (Miami, Fla.) and Sabrina Lechner (Novato, Calif.) all saw time at middle blocker last fall and hope to continue their impact in the attack and at the net. Miller averaged 1.96 kills and 1.69 digs to go along with 40 service aces and 34 blocks, while Hunter set new career highs in kills (66), digs (65) and blocks (28). Despite being limited to just 24 matches, Lechner finished fourth on the team with 36 total blocks and hit .258 with 40 kills.
READY WHEN CALLED UPON
Junior Emily Woodward (Deerfield, Mass.) and sophomores Rachel Williams (Chicago, Ill.) and Avery Tronson (Woodland Hills, Calif.) were all successful in limited opportunities during the 2017 campaign. Woodward averaged 4.73 assists and dished out a career-high 28 in her first career start at Wheaton last October, while Williams averaged 1.42 kills per set. Tronson, who missed all but two matches due to injury, had four kills in seven attempts as a rookie.
FINDING THE SPOTLIGHT
Coming off of the historic NCAA Tournament run, the Beavers are one of 25 programs receiving votes in the AVCA Division III Top 25. Babson collected 37 points in the August 14 poll.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Beavers, who have now won 20 or more matches in three of the last four years, went 14-2 in the month of September last season.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDARS
The Green and White will open the 2018 campaign with four matches against Division II programs at Nova Southeastern in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, beginning on August 31. The Beavers also will take on seven teams that particpated in last year's NCAA Tournament with five of the matches coming in October.