Volleyball Preview: Veterans help usher in new era

The return of Olivia Schow '12 to the roster should provide a boost to the Bates volleyball team. (File photo)

LEWISTON, Maine -- The Bates College volleyball program begins the 2011 campaign with new head coach Margo Linton at the helm, looking to improve upon a 7-20 season in 2010 that included wins over NESCAC rivals Colby and Hamilton.

Keying the Bobcats this season will be senior Chrissy Gee (San Francisco, Calif.), a second-year captain, who averaged 1.88 kills per set in 2010; junior middle blocker Eliza Pyne (Atherton, Calif.), who averaged a team-best 2.32 kills per set with a .190 attack percentage; and junior Nicole Russell (Boca Raton, Fla.), an all-around standout who averaged 4.37 digs and 1.78 kills per set. The three players bring the leadership needed for this year’s youthful squad. Add to the mix senior middle blocker Olivia Schow (Costa Mesa, Calif.), who returns after a year away from the team, and the Bobcats have a solid base to build upon heading into their opening two conference matches against Colby and Bowdoin.

Coach Linton’s enthusiasm for the season is clearly evident. "With six freshmen and four sophomores, we are a young team; however our two seniors are excellent leaders and will do a fantastic job in that role this season," she said. "Nicole Russell is moving back into the libero role and will provide solid ball control to set up a strong offense led by Gee, Schow, Eliza Pyne and first-year Emma Getsinger [Darien, Conn.]."

Linton, the all-time assists leader at Bowdoin, added that a trio of first-year setters -- Hannah Siegel (Tokyo, Japan), Miranda Shapiro (New York, N.Y.) and Tessa Walther (Santa Monica, Calif.) -- continue to push each other and battle for the starting spot in that position.

The first test for the Bobcats will be at the Brandeis Invitational this Friday and Saturday, where they will face some tough competition in Haverford, Brandeis, Emmanuel and Eastern Connecticut State.