HIRAM, OHIO — After making a ninth straight appearance in the North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament and advancing to the tournament championship match for the ninth straight time, the Hiram College volleyball team looks for a repeat performance in 2011 and perhaps a NCAC Tournament title.
Last year, the Terriers posted their seventh season with 20 or more victories in the last eight years. Hiram ended the 2010 campaign with a 24-10 mark, including an impressive 13-2 record in NCAC play and finished as regular season co-champs.
Dempsey, who enters her 11th season as head coach at Hiram, is the winningest coach in program history with a 240-104 record. In 18 seasons as a head coach, Dempsey currently has a 372-243 lifetime mark.
Hiram returns 10 letterwinners this year, and will return the majority of its roster from a year ago. Back to lead the Terriers this season will be senior All-Region outside hitter, All-NCAC and 2010 NCAC Player of the Year Shaina Bryan (South Euclid/Brush). Last fall, Bryan led the team in kills with 407 (3.34 kills per set) and had a .299 hitting percentage. She was also second in digs (395), service aces (24) and was fourth in total blocks (65). In addition, Bryan was also amongst the conference leaders in kills, hitting percentage and digs.
Also back to help lead Hiram this season is senior All-NCAC middle hitter Kristi Opfer (Garrettsville/Garfield), senior All-NCAC middle hitter Andrea Kaminsky (Canton/GlenOak) and seniors Katie Rumora (Canal Winchester), Taylor Summerfield (Warren/Howland) and Megan Woodard (Saint Leonard, Md./Calvert).
Hiram returns all of its key players up front in Bryan, Opfer, Kaminsky and Woodard.
Opfer had another strong performance this fall finishing second on the team in kills at 260 (2.13 k/s) and led the team in hitting percentage at .325. She ended the season second in total blocks with 101 (seven solo and 94 assists) in addition to recording 23 aces and 64 digs. Opfer ranked in the top-five in the conference in both hitting percentage and blocks going into the NCAC Tournament.
Kaminsky and Woodard both finished amongst the team leaders in kills last season with 215 and 209 respectively. Kaminsky also led the team in total blocks with 107 (23 solo and 84 assists) and Woodard posted a team-best 36 service aces.
Also look for Rumora to play an important role this season as well as junior Ariel Pund (Macedonia/Walsh Jesuit) and sophomore Ashley Venable (Youngstown/Liberty) to provide depth at the net.
“We have the luxury of having very talented and experienced players up front this season,” said Dempsey. “The seniors that we have coming back at the outside and middle hitter positions are all four-year members of the team, so they know what it takes to be successful.”
Setting up the offense at the setting position will be the combination of senior Taylor Summerfield (Warren/Howland) and sophomore Kallie Rogers (Petersburg/Springfield Local). Summerfield makes her return to the team after a two-year absense as the result of an injury that was discovered after her freshman season. In her only season back in 2008, Summerfield led the team in set assists with 760 (5.80 assists per set) and service aces at 34. She was also amongst the team leaders in kills (146) and digs (276).
Rogers is coming off of a solid first season with the program that saw her tally 463 assists (3.86 a/s) which ranked second most on the squad. She also added 30 kills, 60 digs and 23 total blocks (two solo and 21 assists).
“Taylor and Kallie will be a great combination to run our offense,” said Dempsey. “We are glad to have Taylor back on the team and Kallie gaining as much experience as she did last year, she is poised to run our offense.”
Also returning this season defensively for Hiram is sophomore libero Danielle Day (Newbury). Day saw playing time in 31 matches last season primarily in a backup role coming off the bench. For the season, she finished fifth on the team in digs with 173 (1.75 digs per set).
“Danielle did a nice job for us coming off the bench,” said Dempsey. “Danielle had an excellent spring and we look for her to be an anchor for us defensively.”
Hiram will face some tough competition early on in this season’s schedule which will feature three opponents who qualified for the 2010 NCAA Division III National Tournament, including NCAA National Champion Calvin (Mich.) College in the opening tournament of the season on Sept. 2-3. Hiram will not play its first home match of the season until Sept. 16-17 when the Terriers host the Hiram Invitational. Hiram will open NCAC play on Sept. 24 against Ohio Wesleyan University in the first of two NCAC Weekends which will also include the first meeting against defending NCAC Tournament Champion Wittenberg University.