BRIDGEWATER, Va. – Everyday at Bridgewater College's volleyball practice, 17 women are battling for the starting positions for the 2012 season. The Eagles finished in the number four position in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) standings after the 2011 season with a record of 15-16 and 6-4 in the ODAC.
Keep moving up in the ODAC and surprising the rest of the league are some of the goals this year for the Eagles. Last year the team was in the learning stages of the game, but this year they came back more intense, competitive and ready for the new season.
The team lost its number one middle hitter, all-ODAC second team pick, Katie Baker. Baker had with 262 kills during her senior year. Head coach, Erin Albert, stated "Katie was not only a great volleyball player but a good leader. Multiple girls have stepped up in her absence in different and positive leadership positions such as Casey O'Leary and Cadie Castle".
O'Leary returns as the projected starting libero but not far behind her is freshman, Nikki Snyder. "I am glad that Nikki will be able to learn from Casey on the back row," said Albert.
Newcomer Kristen Trice is catching up to the college pace of the game and will see some playing time.
"Fans will be seeing a lot of new faces and the roster will be rotating to be able to keep some players fresher for later in the season," according to Albert.
On the outside, the Eagles welcome back a talented group of hitters led by senior Mara Hogan and sophomore Cat Snead. Castle and sophomore Megann Grimes are a duo staple at the middle hitter position.
Senior Bethany Doman worked a lot over the summer and will see time at the right side position.
"This is a different Bridgewater College volleyball team compared to what people are used to," said Albert. "Last year, the squad would pull out a great couple of sets in a match and fall off late, but this year the new mind set is to go strong for all five sets. This team has taken big steps and is ready to step up to the next level of play. The 2012 freshman class came in ready to play and raised the bar for the entire team."
A tough schedule is on the horizon for the Eagles, the first weekend of competition is this weekend at the Captains Classic at Christopher Newport University.
"This is a great way to start off the season with teams that are on the level we are ready to compete on," said Albert. "This tournament will set the bar high for the rest of our season."
The first ODAC match for the Eagles is September 12 at Randolph Macon College. The match is set for a 7 p.m. start time.