Courtesy of Buffalo Athletic Communications
For one of the first times in head coach Todd Kress’ era at Buffalo he will have a veteran team centered around six seniors and two juniors as the 2013 Buffalo volleyball team steps on the court. This year’s senior class marks the completion of Kress’ first recruiting class at UB.
The senior class features a group of individuals that have started and played in the majority of the matches over the last three years. The most consistent member of the class has been libero Kelly Svoboda who is currently sixth in school history in career digs and is on pace to finish in at least the top two in the history of UB Volleyball. Despite missing the beginning of last year due to illness, Svoboda still finished tied for second in a single season for digs per set at over 4.6.
Vancouver, British Columbia native Dana Musil began last season at the libero position, but moved back to her more comfortable outside hitter role, where she tied the school record for kills in a three-set match with 19 in a victory over Syracuse. Musil has been one of Buffalo’s top threats offensively, surpassing 200 kills in each of her first three seasons. Musil is on a pace to move into the top 10 in school history in career kills this season.
The senior class continues at the setter position where Dani Reinert has taken the bulk of the reps over the last two years. Reinert is fifth in school history in assists and she holds two of the 10 spots in school history for assists in a set. Reinert is just one of five players in UB Volleyball history with over 2,500 assists in her career.
Middle blocker Carissa McKenna had 170 kills last season and 91 total blocks as she remains one of the few veterans in the middle for Buffalo. McKenna recorded a career-high with 15 kills last season in a 3-0 victory over Miami, surpassing her old career high, which she set against the RedHawks during her sophomore season. The West Bloomfield, MI native had a season-high nine blocks against Bowling Green.
Rounding out the senior class is a pair of outside hitters in Christine Fritsche and Kaja Schirmer. Fritsche saw action in 13 matches last year as she recorded 41 kills and 18 digs, while Schirmer split her time at both the outside hitter position and as a middle blocker. Schirmer, who just completed her second season with UB after transferring from New Hampshire, played in 12 matches and had 10 kills and five total blocks. In a match against Eastern Kentucky last season, Schirmer had all three of her service aces on the year.
The Bulls roster continues with a pair of juniors led by reigning All-MAC player Liz Scott. Scott was an all-league second team selection and Academic All-MAC selection as she led the Bulls with 318 kills and a .264 hitting percentage. Scott had a career-high 25 kills in a win over Oral Roberts last year and recorded 20 or more kills in three matches.
The other junior on the team is one of three newcomers to the roster in setter Taylor Pritchett. She comes to Buffalo from Lees-McRae where she was the team’s starting setter. Her coaches at Lees-McRae are current UB assistant coach James Goodridge and volunteer assistant Cassie Crumal. Pritchett played in 67 sets last season at Lees-McRae and led the team with 549 assists.
Returning this season after missing all of last year due to a knee injury is Sable Staller, who began to show huge improvements towards the tail end of her freshman season in 2011. Staller will provide depth at the outside hitting position for the Bulls.
Four student-athletes will be starting their second season as members of the volleyball team in 2013, including a pair of outside hitters and a pair of blockers in the middle.
Tahleia Bishop and Megan Lipski will both see time on the outside, continuing where they left off during their freshman seasons. Bishop saw action in all 28 matches for the Bulls last year as she recorded 173 kills, 70 digs and 44 total blocks. One of the top overall athletes on the team, Bishop is expected to have career year in 2013. Lipski, the Louisville, KY native, played in 26 matches during her rookie season and had 162 kills, while also finishing second on the team with 24 service aces.
Classmate Akeila Lain was a mainstay in the lineup for the Bulls in 2012 as she led the team with 131 total blocks, including 18 solo blocks. Both of those totals were amongst the tops in the Mid-American Conference last season. Offensively, Lain also added 126 kills. Providing depth at the middle position last season was Amber Hatchett, who appeared in six matches, recording a pair of kills and seven total blocks.
The Bulls have added a pair of freshmen to the roster for the upcoming season, staying in-state for one and going across the globe for the other. Siena Wilder is a libero/defensive specialist from Burnt Hills, NY and a was a four-year letterwinner in high school. She has been recognized as a Prepvolleyball Senior National Player of the Year Nominee and a Prepvolleyball 2012 Prep Volleyball Defensive Dandy.
UB’s other freshman is setter Megan Lin, who comes to Western New York by way of Taipei, Taiwan. Lin played from coach Jim Pei Ger at Taipei First Girls High School and is expected to add depth to the setter position.
The Bulls have also revamped their coaching staff for the 2013 season as Kress has hired two new assistant coaches to help lead the way. Marie Zidek comes to Buffalo after three seasons at DePaul University. A former MAC player at Northern Illinois, Zidek has played prominent roles in player development, focusing on the setter and libero positions. Prior to DePaul, she served as graduate assistant at Oregon State.
James Goodridge joins the staff after serving as the head coach for the men’s and women’s programs at Lee-McRae in North Carolina. He had success as a head coach, beating ranked opponents along the way. In 2010, he led the women’s program to a 25-8 record and an 18-0 mark in conference play.
Goodridge brought his assistant coach Cassie Crumal with him, who will serve as UB’s volunteer assistant coach. Crumal played her collegiate volleyball at William and Mary, where she was the team’s setter.
The Bulls will begin non-conference play by hosting the UB Invite, which will have both Niagara and Temple at the tournament. Action gets started on Aug. 30 at noon against the Purple Eagles. UB will then head to tournaments at Cornell and Georgia State before returning home for the Blue and White Classic, which will take place September 20 and 21. The Bulls will welcome Valparaiso, Maryland-Eastern Shore and nationally-ranked Ohio State to Alumni Arena for the weekend.
The tournament will begin a six-match homestand for the Bulls as they open conference play with three straight home matches. UB will then go on the road for eight of its next 10 matches before playing the final three at home. The MAC Tournament will take place from Nov. 22-24 and UB closes out the season by hosting West Virginia on Nov. 30.
With a veteran squad in place, the Bulls are looking to make a charge towards the MAC Tournament in Geneva, Ohio and hopefully secure their first ever trip to the Division I NCAA Tournament.