The Hiram College volleyball team recorded their eighth 20 or more win season in the last nine years last fall with 27 victories and finished as North Coast Athletic Conference regular season co-champs. The 2011 campaign also saw the Terriers qualify for their 11th straight appearance in the NCAC Tournament and reached the tournament championship match for the ninth consecutive year. Hiram capped the season with their fourth trip to the NCAA Division III National Tournament in program history, their first since the 2007 season, and will seek a repeat performance in 2012.
The Terriers (27-9, 13-3 NCAC in 2011), will have to accomplish that feat with a host of new players and new head coach this fall. Gone from last year’s squad are All-Region and first-team All-NCAC players Shaina Bryan and Kristi Opfer. Also lost to graduation are All-NCAC players Megan Woodard and Andrea Kaminsky as well as Katie Rumora and Taylor Summerfield. In addition, the volleyball program will have a new head coach in 2012 as 11-year veteran Ellen Dempsey stepped down after last season to assume an administrative role at Hiram. Dempsey was the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 267-113 mark and a 457-271 record overall in her 19-year coaching career. During her tenure, she was the NCAC Coach of the Year four times (2001, 2003, 2005, 2009).
Senior Ariel Pund (Macedonia/Walsh Jesuit) and junior Ashley Venable (Youngstown/Liberty) are two of six returning letterwinners this season and will be the only two listed returning outside hitters. Both saw playing time last season with Pund playing in 120 sets and Venable 53 sets. Pund finished the 2011 season third on the team in kills with 259 which leads all returning players in 2012. She averaged 2.16 kills per set with a .222 attack percentage. Pund was also second in service aces with 36 and was amongst the team leaders in digs and blocks with 276 and 45 respectively. Venable is coming off of a season in which she recorded 38 kills in addition to 73 digs and seven blocks defensively. She could be one of several players this season to compete for increased playing roles.
The Terriers will return just one player on the right side in sophomore Jennifer Yardas (Moon Twp., Pa./Moon). In her first season with the program, Yardas saw playing time primarily in a backup role in 13 sets. She finished the season with 18 kills (1.38 k/s) and a .250 hitting percentage. In addition, Yardas recorded three digs and one block defensively.
The only listed returning middle hitter this season is sophomore Shirjoma Jacobs (Maple Heights). Last season as a freshman, Jacobs saw limited playing time as a backup in 15 sets. She completed her “rookie” season with eight kills and a .222 hitting percentage. She also recorded two digs and had eight total blocks (one solo and seven assists) defensively.
Defensively, Hiram returns two players in junior Danielle Day (Newbury) and sophomore Regina Zyle (Cleveland/Beaumont). Day saw playing time last season in 104 sets and finished fifth on the team in digs with 171 (1.64 digs per set). Zyle was team’s primary starting libero last season playing in 121 of 127 sets. She had a team-best 480 digs (3.97 d/s) and was also amongst the team leaders in aces with 21.
Hiram will compete in three regular-season tournaments this season, including the season-opening Goucher (Md.) Greg “Gio” Giovanazzi Memorial Tournament on Saturday, Sept. 1 and Sunday, Sept. 2. The Terriers will then host their annual tournament on Sept. 7-8 and will take on non-conference opponents Frostburg (Md.) State, Capital, Carnegie-Mellon (Pa.) and Geneva. Hiram will conclude early season tournament play at the Marietta Pioneer Classic on Sept. 14-15. The Terriers then open NCAC play against Oberlin on Sept. 19 with the regular-season conference showdown against Wittenberg, who was the 2011 NCAA Division III National Champion, on Oct. 19 in Springfield. In conference play this season, the format will return to a single “round-robin” layout rather than the double “round-robin” format that was in use the past several seasons. Hiram wraps up its home regular-season schedule on Oct. 13 in a tri-match against Ohio Wesleyan and Kalamazoo (Mich.) and will conclude the 2012 regular season on the road at a tri-match at Fredonia (N.Y.) State on Oct. 27.
[btn link=”http://www.hiramterriers.com/sports/wvball/index” color=”grey” size=”size-m”]Learn more about volleyball at Hiram.[/btn]