WALTHAM, Mass. – The Bentley University women's volleyball team will open its 2012 season this weekend at the Wilmington Wildcat Invitational in New Castle, Del. with a mix of experience and promising newcomers.
The Falcons, looking to rebound from a disappointing 2011, will debut Friday night against both Davis & Elkins (W.V.) at 6 pm and Indiana (Pa.) immediately following. While Bentley will be taking to the court for the first time this fall, both of those clubs have played three or four matches entering the weekend.
The tournament will continue on Saturday with Bentley taking on both the host institution and West Chester, at 11 am and 2 pm, respectively.
Veteran coach Sandy Hoffman will have a very diverse team, both in terms of geography and ethnicity. Ten different states are represented on the 16-player roster, and it includes players of Mexican, Jamaican, Cuban, African American, French German and Canadian Jewish heritage. It's also a young group with 13 of the 16 either freshmen or sophomores.
After missing the Northeast-10 playoffs last year and the NCAA tournament the last two, Hoffman feels her team has a greater realization of what it takes to extend the season into the postseason.
There are 11 veterans back from last year's squad that predominantly featured freshmen. Setter Alex Tator (Los Angeles, Calif./Marlborough School), libero Lauren Colasanti (Northville, Mich./ Northville HS) and outside hitters Kelsey Buckner (San Marino, Calif./San Marino HS) and Tatiana Froehlich (Newton/Newton North HS) are among last season's rookies who'll be looking to build on that year of experience.
Six-foot-two middle blocker and co-captain Grace Conner (Santa Barbara, Calif./San Marcos HS) is the only senior on the roster. She averaged 0.67 blocks and 1.57 kills last season after a knee injury kept her sidelined for most of 2010.
Hoffman expects to give a number of players significant time, including a number of freshmen. That list includes setter Kyana Miller (San Diego, Calif./Canyon Crest Acad.), defensive specialist Jessica Segal (West Harrison, N.Y./Harrison HS), and right sides Jaci Buscher (Lakewood, Colo./Green Mountain HS) and Shelby Kreienberg (Pittsford, N.Y./Pittsford Mendon).
Following the opening tournament, Bentley will return home for its Northeast-10 opener Tuesday against Southern Connecticut State and the Bentley Invitational next weekend.