Salisbury University is the defending CAC volleyball champion and has been the conference powerhouse the past five years. During that stretch, the Gulls have won four regular-season titles, four playoff championships and advanced to at least the second round of the NCAA Tournament three times.
Frostburg State broke up that run by winning the regular-season and post-season crowns in 2010 – the Bobcats’ first year in the CAC. Mary Washington and York have also routinely ranked among the top four in the regular-season standings and qualify for the conference tournament semifinal round.
FSU and UMW will be among a group of six teams trying to chase down the Gulls in 2012.
Marymount and St. Mary’s, both strong in previous seasons, enter the 2012 season with strong returning lineups, and second-year Wesley coach Juli Greep will field the program’s best recruiting class in recent memory.
The action starts Labor Day Weekend with numerous tournaments throughout the region. The drive to the regular-season title and playoff seedings begins on Sept. 18 when Salisbury visits St. Mary’s and York travels to Wesley. The next night, Marymount plays host to FSU.
The teams will aim to qualify for the 2012 CAC playoffs, which begin Oct. 30 and crown a champion on Nov. 3. The CAC champion earns an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a brief look at each team heading into the 2012 campaign.
Frostburg State’s second year (2011) in the CAC featured a handful of ups and downs, but the 2012 season should be all positive. With the return of three starters and three major contributors, the Bobcats should improve on last year’s third-place regular-season finish. Second year head coach Becky Fletcher welcomes back three of her top five hitters and defensive players, including the team’s leaders in kills and digs.
Marymount returns 11 letterwinners, including eight upperclassmen, and looks to return to the CAC Tournament after a two-year hiatus. Leading the Saints are senior captains Courtny Carroll on the right side, Jenn Forbes in the middle, Michelle McCormick on the outside and Melissa Warren at setter. Adding experience, junior Brianne Fitzpatrick will contribute depth in the back row, Johanna Hummel with continue to excel on the outside while Emily Shultis and Maria Shockman will help in the middle. The Saints trio of sophomores, including outside hitter Erin Allison, setter Kayla Stinson and defensive specialist Cassisie Watson will all continue to contribute and progress from their solid freshman campaigns.
The 2012 season promises to be be an outstanding one for the University of Mary Washington volleyball team, as the Eagles return the bulk of a lineup that has won 36 matches over the course of the past two seasons, with a strong senior class that includes three starters. The Eagles will look to improve on a 17-16 season in 2011, in which injuries befell the Eagles from the start of the season and through the Capital Athletic Conference Tournament. With returning starting hitters Ellen Smethurst, Laura Gomez, and Karissa Herrick, as well as junior all-conference selection Kaitlynn Wickersham, UMW looks to have one of the top attacks in the CAC. Backline specialists Christine Tran and Emily Shea, as well as junior setter Sammy Hogue will look to step into greater roles in 2012, as will returnees Kayla Crawford, Emma Tennant, and Dana Hinden.
Returning nearly every player from the 2011 roster, Salisbury will be in search of its eighth Capital Athletic Conference championship and fifth in the past six seasons. The defending CAC champions will look to a quintet of talented seniors looking to go out with a bang. Chelsea Glowacki, Kristin Jehle, Jenna Shay, Carley Todd and Kelly Vieira have all made an impact on the program and hope their senior season will see an even higher pinnacle.
Ninth-year head coach Morris Davis has a good group who are eager to learn and get on the court for the 2012 season. A core of four seniors will be the foundation of experience for the younger athletes to emulate. With a squad of 16 this season, Coach Davis will have the ability to go deeper into his bench than he has in the past.
The Wesley College volleyball team should have a totally different look in 2012 as head coach Juli Greep brings back just five returners from last year’s squad. However, the Wolverines should get a boost as middle hitter Lindsay DiMuzio returns after missing all of last season with an injury. Wesley opens the season on August 31-Sept 1 at Moravian for the Greyhound Premiere Invitational.
Spartan head coach Sue DuMars enters her 17th season with a renewed optimism despite replacing four starters from last year's 16-17 campaign. Leading a resurgent group of returners are All-CAC and all-region libero Ashley Rineman. The senior led the CAC in digs for the second straight year will be joined on the floor by fellow returners Dani Mastroieni and Jessica Moyer. Middle hitters Katie Huston and Melissa Patterson anchor the middle of the floor for the Spartans while freshmen setters Allie Donahue and Brandi Kinard will run the York offense.