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.
|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.
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.
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.