The Frostburg State University volleyball program is looking to capture both the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference regular-season and tournament championships for the third straight year and the sixth time in the conference’s seven-year existence.
Last season, the Bobcats finished with a 31-4 overall record and a second straight 12-0 mark in the AMCC, their fifth perfect league record in the last six seasons.
FSU reached the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years and advanced to the region semifinals for just the second time in school history.
With 10 players back from last year’s squad, head coach Jeff Billington’s veteran 2004 team looks to take yet another step and challenge for a spot in the national quarterfinals.
The Bobcats return four seniors who will make up the nucleus of the squad.
Lauren Petrick (North Caroline/Denton, Md.), Carrie Ness (Francis Scott Key/Taneytown, Md.), Sam Seyfferth (Broadneck/Annapolis, Md.) and Jodi Carpenter (Linganore/Mt. Airy, Md.) all received All-AMCC honors a year ago and look to cap their careers in style.
The quartet helped FSU lead the AMCC in every major offensive category in 2003 — total kills (1,554), hitting percentage (.267), kills per game (13.75), assists (1,419) and assists per game (12.56). The Bobcats also finished the seaosn ranked 27th in the nation in hitting percentage.
Petrick, the AMCC Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight year, hopes to continue where she left off in 2003. She took home AMCC Player of the Year honors for the second year in a row after finishing second in the conference with 368 and adding a team-high 71 services aces. She enters her final season as FSU’s career leader with 219 aces.
A three-time first-team All-AMCC selection, she also proved herself in the classroom, earning CoSIDA Academic All-District II first team honors.
Ness, a setter, was named to the All-AMCC first team a year ago after leading FSU with 945 assists and finishing fourth on the team with 36 aces. Her athleticism should earn her playing time as an outside hitter as well.
Seyfferth, a defensive specialist and co-captain, was an All-AMCC honorable mention selection in 2003 after posting a conference-high 488 digs. She is the most energetic player on the team and uses that spirit to motivate her teammates.
Carpenter led FSU with 93 blocks and ranked second on the squad with 251 kills last year to earn a spot on the All-AMCC second team. She has excellent athletic ability and a vertical jump of 24 inches.
"Our seniors should prove to have solid leadership both on and off the court," said Billington. "This is their year to their individual and team goals."
Junior outside hitter and co-captain Carly McDonald (Northern/Owings, Md.) is a solid-all around player with excellent versatility. Last year, she finished second on the team with 49 service aces, tied for third with 266 digs and was fourth with 197 kills.
At 6-1, sophomore middle blocker Kelly May (Fort Hill/Flintstone, Md.) is the tallest player on the team. She is coming off an impressive freshman campaign in which she placed second on the team in blocks (134) and fourth in kills (144). She showed her ability to dominate a match with a career-high 12 kills against Penn State Altoona October 9.
Sophomore setter Amanda Hernandez (Arundel/Crofton, Md.) enjoyed an outstanding rookie season and pairs with Ness to give the Bobcats the vary their offensive attack. She passed out 385 assists (8.0 per game) and added 123 digs and 38 service aces. Her ability to handle the setting will allow Ness to see time at the outside hitter position.
Sophomore outside hitter Alana Boyle (Loudoun Valley/Purcellville, Va.) has made significant strides to improve on her 43 kills, 46 digs, 11 blocks and 10 service aces from a year ago. She posted a career-high 15 kills, five digs and three service aces against Lake Erie October 18 and will look to challenge for more time this season.
Junior Tara Emerick (Allegany College/Hyndman, Pa.), a transfer from Allegany College of Maryland, is the lone newcomer to the squad. At Allegany, she earned All-Maryland JUCO honors and was named to the All-Region Team each of her two seasons. She should contribute to an all-ready potent front line.
The Bobcats are loaded on defense as well. Last season, they ranked second in both digs (2,139) and total blocks (277.5) and were third in blocks per game (2.46) and digs per game (18.93).
In addition to Seyfferth, defensive specialists Kristie Butt (Seneca Valley/Germantown, Md.) and Lori Potts (Loudoun Valley/Purcellville, Va.) help solidify the back row.
Butt, a junior, is a quick and consistent player who recorded 44 digs and 18 service aces last year. She recorded a career-high seven digs against Penn State Altoona October 9.
Potts, a sophomore, looks to be a key contributor this fall after recording 23 digs in 14 games last season. She had a career-high six digs against Pitt-Greensburg September 30.
One area that Billington wants to improve this season is his team’s receiving an opponent’s jump serve. The Bobcats made 13 receiving errors versus top-ranked Juniata in the NCAA regional semifinals, and the two teams open the 2004 season against each other.
"We need to be more aggresive when it comes to handling the conversion from defense to offense," says Billington. "We need to handle the serve and then quickly turn the dig into an offensive set. We especially struggled with this on jump serves last season, and we’ve implemented jump serves into our practices to improve the way we handle them."
The Bobcats will face one if their toughest schedules in school history in 2004. FSU gets tested right away with a tough field in the Juniata ASICS Invitational, meeting national powerhouses Juniata and Wittenburg as well as Gettysburg and Waynesburg. Both Juniata (No. 3) and Wittenburg (No. 8) are ranked in the AVCA Preseason Poll, while Gettysburg and Waynesburg are coming off solid seasons.
Gettysburg won the Centennial Conference and advanced to the NCAA region semifinals last year, and Waynesburg captured the Presidents’ Athletic Conference title and was the ECAC South Region runner-up.
FSU also squares off in the Washington & Lee Tournament (the Generals enter the season ranked 26th in the nation) and will also host the Maryland State Division III Tournament after winning the title in the tournament’s inaugural year in 2003.
The Bobcats will also be the target in the AMCC once again, and conference opponents have added incentive now that the league’s tournament winner will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. FSU is dedicating the 2004 season to sophomore outside hitter Lauren "Lefty" Weller, who is currently battling cancer and will miss the year.
"We are all expecting great accomplishments both individually and as a team in the 2004 season," said Billington.
For further information on this release, contact:
Office of Sports Information
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Road
Frostburg, MD 21532-2303