Xavier Volleyball Set for 2005
Aug. 16, 2005
CINCINNATI - Xavier enters the 2005 season after a very successful 2004 campaign. Last season brought a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season crown, a runner-up finish in the conference tournament, five players receiving Atlantic 10 All-Conference honors in addition to the best A-10 regular season mark since joining the conference in 1995. Furthermore, four Musketeers made their mark in the XU record books along with numerous individual honors received ranging from A-10 Setter of the Year to Academic All-American Third Team. With all of this behind them, the 2005 edition of Xavier volleyball will look to build upon the success of last season.
The Musketeers return five starters plus the libero and eleven letterwinners from the 2004 campaign. Headlining the returnees is a strong senior class who looks to send XU again to the top of the Atlantic 10.
"We have a team that has everyone back but one player," stated Head Coach Floyd Deaton. "The girls that are returning are very intelligent young ladies and they know what they have to do to get prepared."
Senior Kate Duchek returns to her outside hitter position for her final season after a solid campaign a year ago. Duchek garnered both athletic and academic honors while helping the Musketeers to a 20-11 mark overall and a 12-2 record in Atlantic 10 play. After posting career-highs with 458 kills and a .322 hitting percentage in 2004, she was named the Atlantic 10 Student-Athlete of the Year and to the All-Conference Team. Duchek also earned a spot on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American Third Team for her exceptional work in the classroom. Duchek made her mark in the XU record books as her .322 hitting percentage was ninth best in a season.
Classmate Jordan Brightwell also made her mark in the XU record books as she just missed besting her previous mark and now has the sixth and seventh best efforts for digs in a season with 415 and 404, respectively. Brightwell will be the verbal leader from her libero position. The four-year starter currently stands in seventh place for digs in a career and has led XU in digs each of the past three seasons.
Carley Horvath returns as one of the top all-around players on the team. Her athletic ability allows her to hit from anywhere on the floor and cover a large part of the court from the back row. A lefty with a potent jump serve, Horvath could also take on some of the setting duties if called upon.
Laci Hasenour is returning for her fifth season after knee injuries cut her season short in 2001 and 2003. She will be another option on the outside and add a solid defender in the backrow when needed.
The junior class will provide some excellent help on the front line as Xavier returns two All-Conference players in Astyn Bjorklund and Danielle Skrajewski. In addition, Xavier receives some solid defensive help off the bench from vetrans Erica Kaczorowski and Ashley Norris.
Bjorklund has established herself as an accurate attacker and currently is third in school history for career hitting percentage with .295. Her presence at the net is also felt on the defensive side as the middle blocker led the team in solo blocks last season and was second in block assists.
Skrajewski is currently on pace to become the next member of the 1,000-1,000 club. The outside hitter already has 521 kills to go along with 533 digs and can provide offense and defense from anywhere on the court. She has also developed a serve that allowed her to lead XU in aces in 2004 and will be counted on to continue causing headaches for opposing backrows.
The sophomore class will have a lot to offer Xavier after a year of experience. Jill Quayle leads the second-year standouts after earning Atlantic 10 All-Rookie honors last season. The middle blocker became the first freshman to jump into the block category of the Xavier record books. Quayle recorded a team-high 107 block assists last season, which placed her in a tie for ninth place in school history.
Jenni Horvath, Lauren Kowal and Molly Spencer complete the sophomore class and will provide key help off the bench while trying to break into the starting lineup. Horvath will look to solidify the outside hitter position while being called upon to use her jump serve to take advantage of weak opposing back lines. Kowal is a fixture in the middle and will vie for time at middle blocker, while Spencer will look to rebound from an injury that forced her to miss the 2004 season.
Three freshmen add to the already solid core and will help fill some empty holes as well as push the upperclassmen. Megan Hellmann, Vanessa Romano and Jenn Welsh make up the class of 2009. Hellmann and Romano will look to learn from the upperclassmen and provide depth in the backrow as defensive specialists, while Welsh will be called upon to take over the potent offensive attack of the Musketeers.
Welsh, a Harrison High School product, was named to the 2004 Indiana All-State team and will have a big role to fill with the departure of Molly Martin. Martin left Xavier second in school history for assists in a career with 4,565 and was the floor leader for the Musketeers the past four seasons, while guiding the 2001 team to the A-10 Championship and the programs only NCAA tournament birth.
The Musketeers will have one of the most challenging schedules in school history to play through in 2005. The slate is highlighted by nine home contests at Cintas Center and the Musketeers will compete against six teams that qualified for the NCAA tournament in 2004.
"I think this is one of the toughest schedules that we have put together since I have been at Xavier," stated Coach Deaton. "However, I know that the team will be up to the challenge of the great competition ahead. We have girls that understand what it is going to take to bring it all together to accomplish their goals."
XU will travel to four tournaments starting in the last weekend of August and running until the middle of September. The most notable challenge will come during the first and third weeks of September, as Xavier will participate in the Diet Coke Classic at Minnesota on September 2-3 as well as the Mortar Board Premiere at Purdue. Both Big Ten schools qualified for the NCAA tournament last year with Minnesota making it all the way to the championship match. The Golden Gophers were defeated in the title match by Stanford to claim National Runner-Up and will be a force again this year.
The Mortar Board Premiere in West Lafayette, Indiana, on September 16-17 will feature three teams that made the NCAA tournament in 2004. The host Boilermakers qualified for the field of 64 and made their mark defeating Colorado State and later bowing out to #3 Hawaii in the second round. Tennessee reached the Sweet 16 before falling to 2004 Xavier opponent - #5 Ohio State. The final team in the field, Ohio, was also defeated by #5 Ohio State in the second round as the Bobcats won the Mid-American Conference to receive the automatic bid and finished with a 29-3 mark overall.
The Musketeers will open the season traveling to UNC - Wilmington for its invitational tournament. South Carolina State, Air Force and the host Seahawks make up the field. XU will then make the trek to Minnesota followed by a trip to the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, and finish off the first part of the schedule traveling to Purdue and then Central Michigan on September 20.
XU will open its home slate on September 23 as George Washington visits for the Atlantic 10 opener. The Musketeers will also play their longest homestand in October, as five-straight matches will take place at Cintas Center from October 4 thru October 15. Opponents during the homestand include Morehead State, Dayton, Louisville, Saint Louis and Duquesne. After a weekend on the road, Xavier will return to Cintas Center for its final two home games of the season against Ball State on October 25 and against Rhode Island for Senior Night on October 29.
"The Atlantic 10 is going to be tough this year," said Deaton. "With three of the four teams that made last seasons A-10 tournament in our division, it is going to be a challenge."
Xavier will again look to Cintas Center to provide a home court advantage. The 2004 season was another example as the Musketeers ended the season 8-1 when playing at home and now hold an overall record of 47-8 since the facility opened in 2000. In addition, XU pulled the 3-0 sweep on 7 out of its 9 opponents faced at home.
With senior leadership, a strong incoming class and a great home court advantage, Xavier volleyball is ready for the upcoming season and is Going To Work.