Revamped Bobcat Volleyball Team Looking to Continue Past Success Under FSU Grad Billington
Jeff Billington has envisioned this time for nearly ten years. The 1984 graduate of Frostburg State University, who in 1993 earned his master’s degree from FSU as well, knew when he completed graduate school that he wanted to coach and teach in college.
Now, he’s back in the western mountains of Maryland and at the helm of the very successful Bobcat women’s volleyball program.
"It’s great to be back," Billington said. "This is a dream of mine to come back to my alma mater and coach and teach at the University. I had a great educational experience at FSU, and I want to give back and give my student-athletes a positive experience."
While the excitement of his return is evident, it may be tempered by the fact that the Bobcats return just one player from last season’s squad that turned in the best record in the program’s seven-year history.
In 2000, FSU captured its fourth straight Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference title and made its second consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament, where the Bobcats won their first-ever match in the national playoffs.
Along with a new coach, the Bobcats welcome seven freshmen and three junior college transfers to the team.
With so many newcomers and such overall inexperience at the collegiate level, an air of uncertainty surrounds the upcoming season, and only time will tell how the new-look FSU squad will fare.
Among the freshmen looking to play vital roles this season are co-captain Carrie Ness (Taneytown, Md./Francis Scott Key) and Lauren Petrick (Denton, Md./North Caroline), who will be the team’s setters.
Ness has quick feet and a tough serve, and she brings strong club experience as a member of the Carroll Vipers.
Petrick, who has one of the strongest arm swings on the team, will hold a dual role as a setter and outside hitter. She’ll be a primary go-to player in the Bobcat offensive attack.
"Carrie sets the ball with the proper tempo, and I’ve been very pleased with her work ethic," said Billington. "Lauren is very skilled in all facets of the game and is our most solid all-around player."
Billington will look to a trio of players as defensive specialists in sophomore co-captain Jen Fagan (Gaithersburg, Md./Quince Orchard), junior Lori Glatt (Rockville, Md./Magruder) and freshman Sam Seyfferth (Annapolis, Md./Broadneck).
Fagan is the lone player back from last season’s team and posted seven kills, five aces, five digs and four assists in 14 matches. She hits well out of the back row and is a solid passer.
"Jen is the elder statesman, so to speak, because she has more experience at this level than most of the other players. As the lone returner from last year’s 34-4 team, she understands what it takes to be successful."
Glatt, whose primary focus will be on defense, will play all the way around, while Seyfferth is an excellent communicator on the court and will be very important in FSU’s serving and defensive schemes.
Freshman Deanna Williams (Germantown, Md./Seneca Valley), another defensive specialist, will redshirt for the 2001 season.
A pair of junior college transfers and two freshmen will make up the Bobcat front line attack.
Juniors Stacey Bureau (Rockville, Md./Richard Montgomery), who played at Hagerstown Community College, and Marjorie Loggie (Gaithersburg, Md./Watkins Mills), who joins the Bobcats from Montgomery Junior College, will give FSU strong leadership and solid play.
Bureau has exceptional leaping ability and a good arm swing, while Loggie is an all-around skilled player.
"Stacy’s got that tough, spunky attitude that coaches love to have," said Billington. "She’s a real competitor and will see a lot of playing time. Marjorie brings strong club and junior college experience, and I anticipate that she will see a lot more playing time as the season progresses."
Local product Jen Vance (Mt. Savage, Md./Fort Hill) is a very athletic player with a great arm swing and should figure prominently into the Bobcat attack, while fellow freshman April Caprarola (Taneytown, Md./Francis Scott Key), who has played on the same team with Ness since the seventh grade, will see a lot of playing time with her strong leaping, passing and defensive abilities.
Billington will turn to two more local products – Garrett Community College transfer Jessica Saturday (Oakland, Md./Southern Garrett) and freshman Stacey Langham (Barton, Md./Westmar) – as his middle blockers.
At 5-11, Saturday is the tallest player on the team and should prove to be an offensive threat in the center of the net.
Langham (5-10) played outside hitter in high school but has been shifted to the middle due to her exceptional athletic ability.
Billington sees his team as quick and athletic, but the Bobcats will have to overcome lack of size and experience in order to be successful in the 2001 campaign.
"We’re going to have to play a quicker style of offense and play solid defense," he explained. "We’re going to keep the ball in play until our opponents make a mistake. Right now, we just lack an understanding of what it takes to win at this level."
While the Frostburg State volleyball program has enjoyed tremendous success over the last four years, posting a 138-21 record and advancing to two NCAA and one ECAC Tournament the last three seasons, Billington knows those days are gone.
His focus is on his team and not what happened in the past.
"It’s a new day," Billington explained. "Every season is different, every game is different and every point within a game is different.
"We need to be mentally focused on what we’re doing and handle each situation as it comes along."
While uncertainty surrounds his 2001 squad, Billington leaves no doubt about what he hopes to accomplish with his new program.
He plans on instilling a strong work ethic and mental toughness in pursuit of his ultimate goal – playing for the national championship within three years.
"Anything’s possible," he said with a smile. "You just have to stay focused on your goals."
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303