Aug. 21, 2012
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LOS ANGELES - The LMU women's volleyball team, led by third-year head coach Tom Black, enters the 2012 season looking to improve on a 14-16 overall record and a sixth-place finish in the WCC last year. Black and his coaching staff welcome back six letter winners in addition to three players who redshirted the 2011 campaign. The Lions also welcome five newcomers, including one Division-I transfer, to LMU as part of a second consecutive ranked recruiting class.
Highlighting this year's group of returners are 2011 WCC Defensive Player of the Year Betsi Metter
, All-Freshman team selection Litara Keil
, and sophomore outside hitter Caitlin DeWitt
. Also returning to the outside position this year after missing all of last season due to injury is junior Felicia Arriola
. LMU's lone senior, Kenna Crouse
, is expected to join Keil as a force at the middle blocker position. While the setter position is up in the air, Black feels he has two legitimate options in sophomore Ashley Maxfeldt
and freshman Hannah Tedrow
Named West Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year after posting a conference-best 538 digs at a rate of 4.89 per set, Metter garnered honorable mention All-West Coast Conference honors as a sophomore while also claiming a spot on the All-Academic squad last year. The 538 digs and 4.89 digs per set were good enough to rank second in LMU's single-season record book. On the serve, Metter managed 42 aces at a rate of 0.38 per set to place third in the WCC. Staking her claim as one of the best players in the conference, she was named WCC Player of the Week on October 31 - the only Libero lauded by the WCC throughout the season. Flourishing throughout the year, Metter managed a season-best 34 digs against UC Santa Barbara on October 7, placing ninth in LMU's record book for a single match. Metter, who posted double-digit digs in all but four of the 30 matches played, had 20 or more digs in 10 matches last year.
According to Black, "Betsi in a lot of ways is our anchor. She has a passion for the game, and she wakes up every day and thinks about volleyball. She was involved with the USA High Performance beach team again this last summer, and she continues to get better and make an impact for us every day."
Keil, a COBRA Magazine All-Southwest Region selection, made an immediate impact on the team as a freshman, starting all 30 matches in her inaugural year en route to being named to the All-WCC Freshman squad. She led all LMU players on the block, posting 20 block solos and 85 block assists at a rate of 0.97 blocks per set. Making a name for herself right away, Keil posted a season-best three block solos in her first match of her career against Cal State Fullerton on August 26. Playing against one of the taller squads in the WCC, the native of Long Beach, Calif. had nine block assists at BYU on November 3, placing tied for 10th in LMU's record book for a single match. On the attack, Keil posted 248 kills at a rate of 2.30 kills per set, including a season-best 14 kills on November 5 against Santa Clara when she hit .481 with only one error on 27 attacks.
"Litara had an extremely strong freshman year," Black said. "We expected her to have an impact and she surpassed our expectations. She can play the whole game really well, and her blocking has improved dramatically from last year. Like Betsi, she also competed with USA on the beach this summer, and she seems to have come back feeling more confident as a competitor."
Perhaps the most improved player from the end of last year and into fall practice this season, DeWitt appeared in 24 matches, starting six, as a freshman. She posted 128 kills, including a season-best 17 against BYU on September 29 and at San Diego on October 15. On the serve, DeWitt notched eight aces, including a pair versus Houston on September 10 and two more at Long Beach State on November 23.
"Caitlin had a pretty strong freshman year, but she really worked hard to improve in the offseason," Black stated. She has developed in all areas of her game, and as a result, she seems more relaxed and confident." Assistant coach Meagan Schmitt added, "Caitlin came ready to play this fall. She hit the ground running and has truly made the competition at outside hitter extremely competitive."
Arriola missed all of last year due to injury, but worked extremely hard throughout her redshirt season en route to earning the LMU Pride Award for her team support and work ethic. A captain on last year's squad despite not playing in a single set, Arriola appeared in 29 of LMU's 30 matches as a sophomore in 2010, including starting 28. She amassed 240 kills at a rate of 2.35 per set, while also posting 15 service aces and 233 digs at a rate of 2.28 per set. Active on the block, she totaled 23 blocks, including three block solos and 20 block assists.
When asked about Felicia, Black said, "It is great to have Felicia back this year. She had a huge impact my first year here, and while she was a captain and was involved at practice last year, we missed her on the court during matches. She is a six-rotation player with a lighting fast arm and a will to win that you rarely see."
Crouse, LMU's lone senior in 2012, appeared in all 30 matches for the Lions last year, posting 183 kills at a rate of 1.69 per set while hitting .179. She managed five aces on the season, including three against Quinnipiac on August 27. A constant at middle blocker, she totaled five block solos and 58 block assists for a combined 63 blocks at a rate of .58 per set.
"Kenna has a high volleyball IQ that she has developed over her four years here at LMU," Black said. "She is motivated to make this season great, and she has a lot of experience - which will be invaluable on the court for us this year."
When asked about the setter position, Black said, "I'm really impressed with both of our setters this year. They are both aware that the competition is tight and both want to play, but they are not allowing that to get in the way of their relationship as teammates."
Speaking specifically about Maxfeldt, Black said, "Ashley pretty much ran our offense last spring, and she did a phenomenal job. We had a successful spring season and Ashley is one of the main reasons for that success. She knows she has the ability to be our starting setter, and she has been playing very well so far this fall."
LMU volleyball's incoming recruiting class was tabbed Highest Honorable Mention by PrepVolleyball.com for the second straight year, it was announced on May 24. The class includes incoming freshmen Sara Myers (OH - Episcopal School of Dallas), Rachelle Suaava (MB/RS - Long Beach Poly) and Hannah Tedrow (S - Orange Lutheran), in addition to transfer Kathleen Luft (OH - University of Georgia) and walk-on Avery Bush. LMU is one of just two West Coast Conference schools on the list, as Pepperdine was also lauded.
In order to determine the top recruiting classes, PrepVolleyball.com petitions a panel of college coaches from across the country to develop the list. The coaches represent every major conference, plus a few from lower-level D-I through D-III schools. The charge to these coaches was to judge each class using both size and strength of the class, and impact on that program as guides. The classes were not rated solely on immediate impact to the program, but were also judged based on the cumulative impact the class could make in four to five years at the school. The classes consist only of players making their initial appearance in a four-year program, and thus Luft was not included in the final analysis despite the fact that she is expected to play an integral role in her first season at LMU.
Myers starred at Episcopal School of Dallas in Dallas, Texas for four years, including serving as the team captain in her final two campaigns. An All-North Zone selection in all four years of varsity play, Sara also earned All-SPC honors three times in her high school career, was named TAPPS 5A Newcomer of the Year, TAPPS All-District first team, TAPPS All-State second team, and was a member of the TAPPS 5A State Finals All-Tournament squad. In 2010, her club team was runner-up in the 16's Open Nationals, and she garnered the first of back-to-back Episcopal School of Dallas MVP selections. In 2011, Sara was on the 2011 Under Armour High School Girls' All-American watch list, and was named Prep Volleyball's Senior Aces honorable mention.
"We've been waiting for a while to get Sara on campus, and after having an appendectomy earlier this year, we can't wait to get her on the court playing," Black said.
Suaava, who is best friends with current Lion and 2011 All-WCC Freshman Team selection Litara Keil, earned All-Moore League first team honors as a junior and senior at Long Beach Poly High School in Long Beach, Calif. An All-Tournament selection at the Redondo Power Classic in 2010 and 2011, Suaava helped Long Beach Poly to a No. 1 ranking in the state of California during the 2010 season, while also ranking as high as No. 11 nationally according to Maxpreps.com. Rachelle guided her team to the CIF playoffs as a junior and senior, including helping her team to a runner-up finish at the CIF Division I Championship in 2010. For her efforts in guiding her team to the final match, Suaava garnered CIF All-Tournament honors. Before transferring to Long Beach Poly, Suaava was named an Oahu Interscholastic Association All-Star as a sophomore while attending Kapolei High School in Hawai'i.
"Rachelle is a very exciting player," Black stated. "She is from the same high school as Litara, and those two should be a force together this year and in the future. When she is hitting her best ball or making her best block, it is impressive. Rachelle has a very high ceiling, and she should make a big impact for us this year."
Luft is a 6'1" outside hitter who will transfer in after spending three years, including a redshirt season in 2009, at the University of Georgia. A native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., Luft is the daughter of LMU Assistant Athletic Director of Development, Brian Luft. Kathleen appeared in 26 matches with 24 starts last year for Georgia, recording 285 kills, 24 aces, 108 digs and 44 blocks. A constant on the attack for the Bulldogs, she led or tied for the team lead in kills 15 times, including posting three double-doubles over the course of the year. As a freshman, she appeared in 30 matches with 20 starts while recording 271 kills (2.44 per set), 23 assists, 20 aces, 173 digs (1.56 per set) and 48 blocks to the tune of five double-doubles. A consummate student-athlete, she was named to the Director's Honor Roll for spring semester as a sophomore after being named to the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll. Before going to Georgia, Luft graduated from Thousand Oaks High School where she was a four-year letter winner. There, she was named 2008 Most Valuable Athlete and a Star News first team selection while also garnering a first team selection from the Marmonte League.
"Kathleen has brought a ton to our program already," Black said. "She is our highest jumper, and she has a really nice arm. Outside of athletic ability, she has an extremely strong character and work ethic, and she is getting better every day. We are looking for a lot of good things from her this year."
Tedrow is a 5'8" setter from Orange Lutheran High School and the Surf City Volleyball Club. A native of Foothill Ranch, Calif., Tedrow was a four-year varsity starter at Orange Lutheran. A second team All-Trinity League selection as a freshman, she earned firs team selections in each of her final three seasons. Tedrow, the MVP of the La Jolla Tournament as a senior, earned a silver medal at the Junior Olympics in 2011 en route to an All-Tournament selection. She also garnered a silver medal at the Global National Challenge in 2010.
When asked about Tedrow, Black said, "Hannah is a top-recruited setter, and we are thrilled to have her in our program. She is a different setter than Ashley, and she provides different strengths. Competing against Ashley will only make both of the setters we have even better."
Bush was a four-year varsity letter winner at Laguna Beach High School. She posted 52 kills and 24 aces, while notching 93 digs, to help her squad to a 21-9 record in 2010. As a senior in 2011, she posted 21 kills and 33 aces to go along with 99 digs, helping her team qualify for the CIF Semifinals.
"Avery is passing, digging and serving at a real high level," Black said. "We have been pleased with what Avery has brought to our program, and combined with others, she makes our defensive specialist position very deep."
This year's slate consists 30 matches, including 15 matches at home. In addition to the 15 in Gersten Pavilion, the Lions will host three non-LMU matches as part of the DoubleTree Los Angeles Westside Invitational to begin the year.
Fans wishing to see all 15 home matches can take advantage of LMU's new 2012 season ticket campaign. LMU is offering the Season Ticket Scarf Pack for season access to not only volleyball, but to women's basketball, men's soccer, women's soccer, men's water polo, women's water polo, softball and baseball at one low price. For just $30, you get access to all home preseason and regular season events for volleyball and these additional seven Division I programs - more than 100 home games at LMU! In addition, as the name suggests, the Season Ticket comes with the limited edition LMU Scarf, which is your access to those 100-plus games. To order your yearlong pass, click on the link at the top of this page.
As part of the DoubleTree Los Angeles Westside Invitational, LMU will host Connecticut to open the 2012 season on August 24. The Lions will then meet Iona and UC Santa Barbara to finish tournament play on the 25th.
The home slate continues with three more tournament matches as the Lions and UC Irvine share hosting duties at the LMU/UCI Dual Tournament. The Lions will welcome Colgate to Gersten on August 31 to open tournament play before UC Irvine and Arizona State close the six-match home stand.
LMU hits the road for the first time in 2012 the following weekend, playing at the High Point University Invitational before heading to Notre Dame for a tournament from September 14-15. The High Point Invitational features the host Panthers, Virginia Tech and George Mason. LMU opens play at the Notre Dame Invitational with a match against Kansas on September 14. The Lions will then play Notre Dame and Xavier in the final match before West Coast Conference play begins.
The conference season kicks-off on September 20 at Saint Mary's, capping a string of seven straight matches on the road. Fortunately for the Lions, the next six matches will be played at home, beginning with San Francisco and NCAA qualifier San Diego. The match with the Toreros is slated for September 27, followed two days later by a non-conference showdown with Cal State Bakersfield.
LMU gets its first look at BYU on October 4 at home before meeting Saint Mary's for the second and final time on October 6. The final home match of the string will bring Santa Clara to LMU on October 11 before the Lions hit the road to San Diego (October 13), Gonzaga (October 18) and Portland (October 20).
LMU will renew its rivalry with defending WCC Champion Pepperdine on October 25 on the road before hosting Gonzaga and Portland on October 27 and November 1, respectively. After traveling to BYU for a match on November 3, the Lions will play host for the final time during the regular season, welcoming Pepperdine to campus for a PCH Cup match on November 8.
The regular season concludes with three straight road matches, beginning with Cal State Northridge on November 10 and concluding with matches at WCC-foes Santa Clara (November 15) and San Francisco (November 17).
- GO LIONS -