VB: Wildcats hope less is more in 2007 campaign

Carolyn Brown

By Carolyn Brown

Staff Reporter

Heading into its first game of the ’07 season yesterday, the volleyball team aimed to stay competitive despite less depth and only 10 girls on its roster this year.

An addition to the Villanova leadership this year is first-year head coach Josh Steinbach.

“It’s great to be here,” Steinbach said. “Villanova is a special place, and as soon as you walk onto campus, you recognize that there is something different that sets the University apart from the others. I am looking forward to this season and the challenges that we will face.”

After losing three pivotal senior players from last year, multiple players are going to have to step up to compensate for the strength the team will be losing.

The team will rely on its two seniors, Kacy Sellers and Alona Cherkez, to fill leadership positions. Middle hitter Sellers has led the team in attack percentage in all of her three seasons and is close to reaching 1,000 kills and 500 digs in her career. Last year, she dominated the court, recording 329 kills, 165 digs, 91 blocks, a team-high 36 service aces and a hitting percentage of .318.

Outside hitter Alona Cherkez is a dominant hitter in the Big East Conference. She led the team in total kills and kills per game, while averaging four kills per game and 2.93 digs per game.

“I think we can attack at a pretty high level,” Steinbach said. “Cherkez and Sellers can score from a variety of places along the net, and I think their offensive presence will be our biggest strength. We can and will need to serve very tough for us to be successful, and I have been very pleased with how we have been serving in preseason.”

Nine of the 10 players on the roster are returning letter-winners from last season. Adding only one freshman to the roster this season, the Villanova squad heads into the season with players that all had significant playing time in the ’06 season. They returned 75 percent of their hitting in both kills and attempts, two-thirds of their offense and over 86 percent of their digging.

Coming off a winning season last year with a record of 16-15, the Wildcats hope to not only have another winning record but also qualify for the Big East Conference championship after barely missing the cut for the tournament last season.

“The first Big East matches are not for another month,” Steinbach said. “Right now we are focused on … the Texas Tech trip. The schedule we are playing in the preseason should have us ready to compete with the teams in the conference. We need to focus on serving and passing because that is what wins matches. We have been and will continue to spend a large amount of time practicing those two skills.”