Volleyball Primed to Start 2013 Campaign

 

DURHAM, N.H. - For the 2013 season, head coach Jill Hirschinger is confident about a battle-tested squad that is seeking a fourth America East title and to compete for a NCAA Championship. Returning six-out-of-seven starters, three All-America East players, nearly every statistical leader from the 2012 season and adding talented recruits, Hirschinger and her staff are raring to challenge a talented field of new and familiar opponents.

Last season, the Wildcats fired off a season-high seven game winning streak, which included five straight wins in America East play, lifting UNH to the top of the America East standings midway through the season. New Hampshire qualified for the conference playoffs in consecutive seasons for the ninth time under Hirschinger. Overall, New Hampshire ranked first in kills per set (12.55) and assists per set (11.69) while placing second in hitting percentage (.196), opponent hitting percentage (.179) and digs per set (16.46) last season. In her 18th season at the helm, the four-time America East Coach of the Year has compiled a skillful roster mixed with proven leadership, experienced talent and youthful potential. Additionally, the Wildcats welcome back associate head coach Stacy Barnett for her ninth season and add former Holy Cross standout and Stonehill College assistant coach Kathleen Colpoys.
Senior co-captain Morgan Thatcher


Pin Hitters:
  Senior right-side hitter Morgan Thatcher (Brockton, Mass.) is coming off another spectacular season as thereturning captain, four-year starter and member of the 2012 America East first team. A first-team Under Armour High School All-America at Brockton High, Thatcher paced the Wildcats with 412 kills, averaging 3.52 kills per set and a hitting percentage of .225. A member of the 10 foot club, Thatcher's 412 kills ranked eighth best in program history in a single season and currently is on pace to break the top 10 in career kills. On the outside, an America East All-Rookie team mention, Tori Forrest (Powder Springs, Ga.) registered 2.65 kills per set and hit at a .208 clip in her first season as a starter. Assisting Thatcher and Forrest includes sophomores Abigail Brinkman (Brecksville, Ohio), an America East All-Championship team recipient, averaged 2.09 kills per set in her freshman campaign and Elizabeth Kennerly (West Lake, Calif.) who saw 30 sets of action last season. In addition, Maggie Kenney (Nashua, N.H.) will contribute to the team after being red shirted in 2012.

 

Senior co-captain Destiny Tolliver

Middle Blockers:  The Wildcats return all their middle blockers from the 2012 campaign. Anchoring the group is co-captain, four-year starter and 2010 America East All-Rookie mention Destiny Tolliver (Rochester, Mich.). An Under Armour High School All-America Honorable Mention at Notre Dame Prep, Tolliver led the team in blocks with 103 while chipping in 115 kills in 2012. In addition, Tolliver's 103 blocks ranked ninth all-time in a single season while her career blocks total of 227 also ranks ninth in program history. America East All-Rookie mention Brenna Buckwalter (Evergreen, Colo.) also returns. She paced the Wildcats in hitting percentage with a .242 average and recorded 51 blocks in 88 sets played. Alongside Tolliver and Buckwalter includes: Delaney Dameron (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Cassidy Croci (Sylvania, Ohio), each of them logging in significant sets for the Wildcats with 48 and 32 respectively. New additions to the middle include freshman Demi Muses (Orangevale, Calif.) and transfer Kym Gordon (Canandaigua, N.Y.). Muses, a three-sport athlete playing basketball, soccer and volleyball at Casa Roble, the three-time Capital Valley Volleyball All-League selection paced the conference in hitting, kills and digs in her senior season. In addition, she was a silver medalist at the USA Junior Nationals and was named to the all-tournament team. Gordon, a 6-foot-2 middle blocker, transfers to UNH after playing for Akron and Mississippi State with two years of eligibility remaining as a red shirt sophomore. The Canandaigua Academy standout aided the volleyball team to a New York Class AA championship while being named Most Valuable Player in the tournament.

Setters:  Taylor Dunklau (Mukowonago, Wis.) was called upon to orchestrate the Wildcats offense and came through, helping New Hampshire to lead the conference, averaging 11.69 assists per set. The fourtime 2012 America East Setter of the Week appeared in 27 matches and 90 sets, logging 9.31 assists per set.Presently, the junior sits ninth all-time in career assists with 949. The Wildcats have also added freshman Keelin Severtson (Boca Ranton, Fla.) to the squad. Named to the Sun Sentential volleyball first team as a junior, Severtson was then named Most Valuable Player and captain in her senior campaign at Cardinal Newman.

Defensive Specialists:  Sam Henke (Millersville, Md.) comes back to the squad as she shared the team lead in sets played with 117 while contributing to the second-best digs per set average in America East, helping UNH accumulate 16.46 digs per set. Additionally, the returning junior ranked second in service aces with 31. Katie Sattora (Avon, N.Y.) and Madison Lightfoot (Clarkston, Mich.) will also be returning for their junior and sophomore seasons respectively, providing depth at the position. Lightfoot saw action in 94 sets, accumulating 140 digs while Sattora appeared 67 sets while chalking up 70 digs last season.

Schedule: Overall, UNH will play a formable pool of institutions from around the country with 11 teams in the top half of the RPI, including three in the top 100 (Missouri State – 94, Maryland – 91) and Minnesota which concluded the 2012 season ranked sixth nationally.


New Hampshire begins their 2013 campaign on the road Friday, August 30 at the Lehigh Classic taking on Patriot League host Lehigh as well as Rhode Island and St. Peters. After a non-conference contest against Northeastern, UNH will open at home with the Holly Young Invitational as the Wildcats welcome Brown, St. John's (N.Y.) and Missouri State on September 6 and 7. Bryant will travel to Lundholm Gymnasium on Tuesday September 10 before the Wildcats embark on a season-long 11-match road trip.

The Wildcats participate in two tournaments over that time, the Maryland Tournament and the Dartmouth Duel. At the Maryland Tournament, UNH takes on Atlantic Coast Conference host Maryland, Villanova and George Mason beginning on Friday, September 14. From there, the Wildcats will return to the Granite State to partake in the Dartmouth Duel taking on Ivy League host Dartmouth as well as Big East Connecticut, Big 10 Minnesota, and Atlantic 10 Rhode Island starting Friday, September 20. New Hampshire will play their last non-conference match against Harvard for a midweek clash on Tuesday, September 24.

America East play will begin for the Wildcats away from Durham, N.H., as UNH visits new America East member UMass-Lowell on Friday, September 27. The Wildcats conclude their 11-game road trip, as New Hampshire challenges Stony Brook on Friday, October 4 and UMBC on Sunday, October 6.

New Hampshire will return to Lundholm Gymnasium as the 'Cats play host to Providence and Hartford slated for Friday, October 11 and Sunday, October 13 respectively. This falls on UNH Homecoming weekend when the 1998 and 2003 America East Championship teams will be honored celebrating their 10th and 15th anniversaries.

The Wildcats hit the road again the following weekend as New Hampshire competes against reigning conference champion Binghamton and regular season champion Albany. After a one game weekend against UMass-Lowell in Durham on Saturday, October 26, UNH will conclude their last away games at Hartford and Providence to start the month of November. New Hampshire wraps up the regular season at home as they host UMBC, Stony Brook, Albany and Binghamton.

New Hampshire seeks to return to the America East playoffs for the third straight year and the 12th time under Hirschinger. The top four teams in the standings at the end of the regular season will qualify for the 2013 America East Championship, which will take place at the top seed on Nov. 22 and 23 or 23 and 24. The tournament champion will receive an automatic bid to the 2013 NCAA Volleyball Championship.

Under the tutelage of Hirschinger, New Hampshire has reached the America East playoffs 11 times and won the America East Tournament title three times (1998, 2002, 2003). In addition, Hirschinger and her staff at UNH have coached the America East Player of the Year three times, Defensive Player of the Year four times and Setter of the Year once. The Wildcats leads the America East in all-time wins in conference play with 130. For more information about UNH Volleyball, please visit UNHWildcats.com.
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