Aug. 16, 2007
By Jim Wrobel
Special to GoHolyCross.com
The Holy Cross volleyball team returns nine players from last season (5-20, 3-11 Patriot League), including five starters to a team that will have strong veteran leadership and a solid group of young players.
After a successful spring season sixth-year head coach Chris Ridolfi is looking forward to the start of the season. "The spring went really well," said Ridolfi. "We wanted to focus on teamwork and establishing leaders. All of our points of emphasis were accomplished, so the momentum we had in the spring should carry over to the fall."
Ridolfi is also happy with the attitude of the team. "I think we will start right where we left off in the spring and our goal is to be a hard match for anyone on our schedule," said Ridolfi. "We want to play everyone as hard as we can and we want teams to know that when they play us it is going to be a tough match."
As in previous seasons the Crusaders are expected to be a strong defensive team as Holy Cross ranked third in the Patriot League in digs per game last season with a 16.16 average. "Our players know if they want to get time on the court they have to defend," said Ridolfi. "So we have always been strong on defense in the five previous years I have been here and we will continue to be."
Senior Christine Strawson will be a team captain for the second straight season, while she will be joined by junior captain Molly Anderson. "Christine is a lead by example type person," said Ridolfi. "She practices and plays extremely hard as she always gives 100 percent all of the time and is very passionate about the team. Molly fits in well with everyone on the team and always puts the concerns of the team first."
Strawson will be looking to have a strong senior season as an outside hitter as she enters the year with 930 kills which are ranked second all-time at Holy Cross. She is 133 kills away from tying the school record of 1,063. Strawson is coming off an outstanding junior season as she led the team and ranked second in the Patriot League in kills per game with 4.17, as she tied a school single-season record. Strawson's 363 kills were the second highest in school history, surpassing her 351 kills of 2005. She also earned her second straight Patriot League Volleyball Scholar Athlete of the Year Award.
Senior Katie Fitzpatrick will be a major factor in the success of the team defensively this season as she is coming off a junior season in which she played in all 25 matches and had 163 digs. "Katie has a lot of versatility defensively for us and is a very strong player," said Ridolfi.
Senior middle hitter Meagan Merinder is coming off a career season that saw her set career highs and lead the team in total blocks (66) and service aces (34). "Meagan's on court experience is a key for us," said Ridolfi. "She is strong and athletic, and understands the middle blocker position which is one of the hardest positions to play. Her experience should carry over for us in some quality results on the court."
Anderson is expected to be the libero this season as she saw playing time at that position at the end of the year and played the position in the spring season. She set a career-high for digs last season with 293 which ranked second on the team. Anderson also recorded a career-high 33 digs at Bucknell on Oct. 21.
The sophomore class of Liz Auger, Meredith Beatrice, Liz Campbell, Anastasia Quinn and Samantha Surface are coming off solid freshman seasons. "If they use their experience that they gained last year, the sophomore class will be really strong this season," said Ridolfi.
Auger had a strong freshman season as an outside hitter as she ranked second on the team in kills per game (2.77), while Beatrice ranked second on the team in total blocks with 26 at the middle hitter position. Surface is expected to be a major contributor to the offense as last season she ranked third on the team in kills per game (1.85). Quinn also had a solid freshman season as she ranked fourth on the team in kills per game (1.45). Campbell brings a lot of versatility to the team and gained key experience last season playing numerous positions. "Liz is an unbelievable team player for us," said Ridolfi. "She played defense for us every where and she can play a lot of positions."
The Crusaders will welcome freshmen Angela Chisholm, Rebecca DeSanti and Chelsey O'Donnell to the program. Chisholm, who is a setter and a defensive specialist, comes to Holy Cross from Millis, Mass., as her team won the state championship and was South Sectional Finalists twice. She also earned first team all-state honors twice.
DeSanti is an outside hitter from Hampden, Mass., and was a member of the volleyball team at Minnechaug Regional. Her team won the 2005 Western Mass. Championship, while she has earned All-Western Mass. accolades. Setter O'Donnell comes to Worcester from Pittsburgh, Pa., and West Allegheny High School where her team won the 2006 state championship. She had an outstanding senior season as she earned state MVP honors.