Aug. 20, 2006
Entering her third season at Evergreen, Coach Kristina Hernandez will be leading an entirely different team than the squad she led last year. With 11 new members and just five returning players from a season ago, the Greyhounds have a new, youthful look for the 2006 campaign.
Looking to rebound from a 7-25 season last year, the Greyhounds will use the 2006 season to build for the future as Loyola has just one senior on the roster. "It's exciting because it's going to be different," Hernandez says. "We will be young, but these incoming freshman have a lot of energy and how good we are is going to depend on how these new pieces fit together."
For the second straight year, the Greyhounds open a tough non-conference schedule with three tournaments, including the Chesapeake Challenge, which Loyola will be hosting along with the United States Naval Academy. After starting the year at the TCU Tournament, the Greyhounds will travel to Washington, D.C. for a tournament at George Washington University, which will give Loyola a chance to see several teams from the Mid-Atlantic region. "I wanted to get our younger players into some tough competition that helps to test ourselves and get our thinking to a certain level before conference play," says Hernandez.
After the three early tournaments, the Greyhounds will begin their 18-matchMetro Atlantic Athletic Conference slate on September 16 against Manhattan. The conference will play in a "double round robin" format during the regular season before the conference tournament, which is slated for November 15-19 at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. "We are so excited about playing every team twice this year," says Hernandez. "It makes the season a little more competitive and meaningful by playing more conference games."
With a nucleus of young talent, the Greyhounds will be able to gain the experience they need to make a run at their first conference crown since 1992.
Here is a position-by-position breakdown of this year's squad ...
The Greyhounds return four members of the front line to the roster for the 2006 season, including their lone senior, Blair Snyder, who ranked third on the team last year with 197 kills. She will have the daunting task of replacing the offense lost with the graduation of Becky Corb, who graduated last year after setting the school career kills record. "We will look to Blair as our lone senior for leadership and experience on and off the court," Hernandez says.
Snyder will have several key members to help with replacing Corb's offense, including junior Christina Greenup. A native of Malibu, California, Greenup played in 27 of Loyola's 32 matches last season and was second on the team in kills (234) while hitting .152. She recorded the 500th kill of her college career against Saint Peter's and will be looking to get closer to the 1,000 kill mark for her career. "Christina was injured towards the last part of our season and we could really use her in our lineup, but we have to wait and see how she has rehabilitated," Hernandez says. "She has worked so hard to make her body stronger this summer. If she is ready, we know that she can provide 10-15 kills a night, and that would be bad news for opponents."
A pair of sophomores will look to build on their experience from a season ago. Outside hitter Maddie Fuller played in 20 matches and made six starts. She recorded a season-high seven kills in a five-game victory over Lafayette along with five service aces, giving the Greyhounds the ability to score points with her attacking and serving skills. "Maddie improved a lot over the spring to increase her strength and gained some good experience last season on the outside," Hernandez says.
Meanwhile, sophomore middle blocker Rachel Schillinger will look to fill the void left by the graduation of Christine Lopez. Schillinger, who appeared in all 32 matches and made 30 starts as a freshman, ranked fourth on the team in kills (191) while recording 66 total blocks, which was good for second on the team. She will be looked upon to serve as an offensive and defensive spark for the Greyhounds. "Rachel gained a lot of experience as a freshman and was one of our most consistent players all year," Hernandez says. "She showed even more progress in the spring so she'll carry a big load for this young team."
Along with the four returning players, the front line will feature several newcomers, including junior transfer Kim Burton, who joins the Greyhounds after two seasons at Montgomery County Community College. Named as the team's Most Valuable Player at MCCC, she will be an added threat on the offensive side of the net. "Kim came into the program in the spring and she really grew a lot," Hernandez says. "She's a fierce competitor and having an extra semester with the team helped her really get a good grasp on the systems we run. She will be a bring presence at the net for us."
Eight talented freshmen will join the front line for the 2006 season, giving Hernandez and the Greyhounds plenty of options to use in matches. Anastasia Collins helped lead her team to a pair of state championships at Villa Maria Academy. "Anastasia has excellent reaction skills on defense, she could step in and help us a lot in the backcourt this year," says Hernandez. Meanwhile, Harlingen, Texas native Chrissey Cruz recorded 228 kills and 580 assists during her senior season. She could be used as a setter or outside hitter throughout her rookie campaign, helping Hernandez fill two valuable voids on the court. "Chrissey is a very solid setter and I'm excited to see her in action," Hernandez says. "She knows how to run the court and can even hit for us if we need her to. She will provide a lot of leadership for this young team."
Meaghan Mena led Bishop O'Dowd High School to four league titles during her scholastic career, while Baltimore native Kelly Nevin comes to Loyola after being named second-team All-Baltimore County by The Baltimore Sun during her senior campaign. Both will be expected to contribute as rookies for the squad. "Meaghan needs to recover from a summer injury but when she is healthy she will add a lot of depth to both the outside and right side for us," Hernandez says. "Kelly is a hard worker and has the ability to play in the middle or on the right side for us. She is very athletic and will add even more depth to front row for us."
Teresa Pollet will look to bring her winning success to Evergreen after leading her high school squad to three straight division titles. She served as a team captain and gained all-division status during her career as well.Joanne Schurtz, a native of Fanwood, N.J., was named first-team All-County and first-team All-State Non-Public after leading her team to county, conference and state championships. "Teresa adds height and depth to the middle position," says Hernandez. "Joanne is a hard worker and I know we will see a lot of improvement from her during preseason."
A pair of successful freshmen round out the front line on the 2006 roster. Outside hitter Nicole Scimeme led Ward Melville High School to a pair of state championships and three county and league titles. A team captain during her senior season, Scimeme was honored with all-state, all-league and all-county distinction during her career. "Nicole is a very competitive, scrambling-type player," Hernandez says. "She is a little fireball and can jump out of the gym. She will be exciting to watch as she continues to grow."
Meanwhile, Karlee Woodward looks to bring her scholastic success to Loyola after a stellar four-year career. Named as a first-team All-State selection by the Arizona Tribune and Arizona Republic, the Scottsdale, Arizona native led her team to back-to-back state titles at Chaparral High School. "Karlee will step in this year and definitely improve our blocking," Hernandez says of the newcomer. "She is so athletic for her size and plays big at the net which is something we struggled with last year."
Looking to replace Marcellee Williams and Krystal Biegaj, the Greyhounds will look to Cruz and fellow freshman Kristen Muscarella. Muscarella led her Garden City High School squad to a conference championship during the 2005 season. Both players will be looked upon to serve as the team's setter this season. "Kristen is a very solid setter and really scrappy on defense, and still has a lot of room to grow," says Hernandez.
Another difficult task the Greyhounds will have to face is replacing Jamie Arndt, who graduated last year after leading the team with 480 digs. In addition, the Greyhounds will look to players such as Schillinger and Snyder to help with blocking, which is an area that will need to be replaced following the graduation of Lopez.
Sophomore Samantha Greenbaum could serve the role as defensive specialist this year, but freshman Kimi Gabriel could see significant time as the team's libero during the 2006 season. A native of Richmond, California, Gabriel was a three-year letterwinner at Salesian High School and led the league in digs while being named first-team all-league as a senior. This pair of young players could prove to be a valuable combination over the next several years. "Kimi is a fierce competitor and is a great ball control player," Hernandez says. "She brings a lot of knowledge of the game, ball savvy, movement - she can do it all."
"Sam didn't see much time last year, but the training she's done and the improvements she's made make her someone who's a joy to coach and a joy to watch. She progressed a lot this spring and will add depth to our defense."