Muhlenberg College

Allentown, Pa.
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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
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FIELD HOCKEY, VOLLEYBALL PREVIEWS
Volleyball Young, But Experienced

It’s hard to imagine that a team comprised of three juniors, seven sophomores and three freshmen has more experience than it did the previous year, but that is exactly the case when it comes to the 2004 Muhlenberg volleyball team, which opens its season at Moravian’s Greyhound Premiere Invitational on Friday.

The 2003 Mules posted a record of 10-22 with a team of four sophomores and six freshmen. The squad showed potential during the course of the season. The highlight of the year came when the Mules defeated Franklin & Marshall for the first time since 1992, late in the season. However, as many young teams do, the Mules struggled with consistency.

This year’s edition of the Mule volleyball team will be led by a trio of juniors who already have their names all over the record book. Mary Henning, Julie Lauro and Jen Weist have all gained plenty of experience in their first two years of college play and are vital to the success of this season. “These three ladies
Mary Henning
Henning averaged a team-leading 4.16 assists per game last year and also ranked fourth on the Mules in digs (193) and aces (44).
have really stepped up in the off-season and showed what great leaders they can be. I’m very pleased with their attitudes, hard work and effort,” Head Coach Jenny Warmack-Chipman said.

Henning looks to take over at the setter spot after sharing it the last two years. Her 912 career assists already rank sixth in Muhlenberg history.

Lauro is one of the top returning hitters in the Centennial Conference. She led the Conference in kills per game (4.30) and ranked seventh in hitting percentage (.232) last year. Lauro is currently fourth on the career kills list with 953 and holds the Muhlenberg record for kills in a four-game match with 31.

Weist is a two-year letterwinner at libero. She holds the Muhlenberg record for digs in a five-game match (39) as well as digs in a season (538) and is one of the team leaders in work ethic.

Sophomore Kate Haggerty will also play a major role for the Mules this season. Haggerty received All-CC honorable mention last year and ranked seventh in the Conference in aces per game (0.57).

After gaining experience last year, sophomores Lauren Masem, Monica Sella, Courtney Williams, Julia Lamborn and Kristin Caparro will all have the opportunity to make more significant contributions to the team in 2004.

After a ninth-place finish in the CC last year, Warmack-Chipman is aiming for improvement. “My goal for this team is to make the top five in the conference in order to get to the tournament where we can see all the top CC teams again,” she said. Muhlenberg was picked to finish in that fifth spot in the preseason poll.

With the addition of a freshman class that has the ability to make an immediate impact, the Mules should have the tools they need to gain consistency and get themselves into championship contention.

Field Hockey Hopes for Happy Ending

Like an unsatisfying meal, the last two seasons have left the Muhlenberg field hockey team with an empty feeling and hungry for more.

Two years ago, when the Mules tied a school record with 14 wins, they finished in a three-way
Andrea Sebright
Sebright is in her third season as a starter and has been a key reason for the Mules allowing only 1.27 goals per game during her career.
tie for third place in the Centennial Conference, but were the odd team out of the playoff race when the tiebreakers were applied. In 2003, Muhlenberg won its first eight games to reach the top 10 in the national Division III rankings, but went only 4-6 in conference games and ended up with a final record of 12-7.

For the 2004 season, which begins Saturday at Juniata, the Mules hope to stay consistent throughout the entire regular season and fill up on playoff games in the postseason.

“We need to focus on taking it one game at a time,” said senior co-captain Sarah Fosdick. “We can’t think about the playoffs in September. Last year it all happened so fast. When we got to the top and started slipping, we kept slipping and couldn’t grab on and pull ourselves back up.

“Hopefully we will continue to improve throughout the season and not reach a plateau.”

Defense was one of the keys to the team’s fast start a year ago. Muhlenberg shut out five of its first eight opponents but only one of its next 10. The Mules did end up leading the CC in scoring defense with a team goals-against average of 1.39 – not bad for a team that started a freshman in goal all season. Lauren Schram took over for one of the top ’keepers in program history and played every minute in goal. She did a solid job and should be even better with a year of experience under her belt, especially with a veteran defensive unit in front of her. Seniors Pamela Coakley, Andrea Sebright and Fosdick combined to start all but one game in 2003. Junior Tara DeMarzo and sophomore Kate Moyer should play important roles after seeing considerable playing time last year.

When the Mules need offense to win games, they can turn to one of the best in the country in senior Kristen Bruschi. The program’s all-time leader with 99 career points was one of 19 Division III players to average a goal per game last year. As a team, Muhlenberg scored 2.21 goals per game (its second-best average since 1990) and returns most of its top threats. Junior Katie Thomas has provided scoring punch off the bench the last two years, notching five goals and five assists to rank second among active players with 15 career points. Junior Adrienne Verbich scored a pair of game-winning goals last year, and LisaAnn Polt (four goals) and Jessica Hand (three goals) were both impressive in their rookie campaigns.

Junior Steph Light (four assists) and sophomore Sara Levin (two assists) will also be expected to contribute to the offense.

Depth will be an important asset for the Mules, who came out of preseason camp injury-free and with 30 players on the roster. “We have a lot of girls and a lot of different options,” noted Fosdick. “We can mix things up and move people around and try to get everyone at their best position.”

The Mules were picked to finish eighth in the CC preseason poll, but given their returning experience and strong incoming class, they have the ability to surprise everyone but themselves.


Questions or comments? Send mail to falk@muhlenberg.edu
Last updated August 31, 2004