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UAA Championship Volleyball Preview

Peter Cooke and McKelvey Packard

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Recap:

This past Halloween weekend, the Case Western Reserve University women’s volleyball team ended their regular season with a 1-1 split in a tri-match with Otterbein University and the University of Mount Union. The women had a tough loss in the opener against Otterbein in five sets. In the nightcap, however, the Spartan women defeated the University of Mount Union 3-2, taking the first set 29-27, losing the next two 25-22 and 25-21, then rallying back in the fourth 27-25 and the fifth 15-10.

Sophomore middle hitter Allie Palmer led the offense with 17 kills closely followed by Rachael Suchy with 14 and Tricia McCutchan with 11. Breana Freeman had 17 assists to help the offense while tallying 15 digs as well. Rachel Gulasey, Maggie Nofel, Kara Monnin, and McCutchan tallied double-digit dig counts with 27, 17, 15 and 10 respectively. This split ends the Spartans regular season record at 22-8 overall.

Players To Watch:

Senior outside hitter Beth Karpinski will be the player to watch this coming championship weekend. A team captain, Karpinski knows how to handle the pressure and lead her team to victory. She also has the needed experience to take the Spartans to the next level. In the past three years, Karpinski has gotten UAA awards. In 2007, her freshman year, she received an Honorable Mention All-UAA selection, and earned UAA All-Academic honors in both 2008 and 2009.

Karpinski has been one of CWRU’s top offensive forces during her four-year career. She led the Spartans with 354 kills, 1,150 total attacks in 2007, and 245 kills in 2008. She also has led the team defense with 589 digs in 2007, and 414 digs, and 13 blocked shots in 2008.

Karpinski shows no signs of letting up this year in her final season. This season she has accumulated 192 kills, 658 total attacks, 314 digs and 22 total blocks. The biggest aspect of Karpinski, though, is her experience. She has started and played in over 30 matches in 2007 and 2008, 34 and 32 respectively. Last season she tore a ligament in her knee and was knocked out for the all but one set of the 2009 season.

Look for Karpinski to lead the team in an exciting championship on CWRU’s home court.

Starting Lineup:

Middle Hitter: No. 13 Tricia McCutchan

The Spartans leading striker for the past three years, McCutchan has dominated against the competition at the net. In her rookie season McCutchan tallied 488 kills and added another 443 last year. This year she enters the last four games of the season with 458 kills and a chance at a career high.

McCutchan also leads the team in blocks with 115 on the season and nearly 0.97 blocks per set.

Outside Hitter: No. 12 Rachael Suchy

Suchy, a junior, is second on the team with kills, posting 340 this season. Suchy has risen to the occasion in tough matchups this year, earning UAA player of the week honors during the second UAA Round Robin. Suchy ended the weekend with a team high 63 kills and a .357 attacking percentage including a dominating 20 kill performance in CWRU’s upset of No. 1 Washington University.

Middle Hitter: No 8 Ellie Lyman

Setter: Breana Freeman

The sophomore Freeman has thrived as the Spartans key setter, assisting over 1200 kills this season. Freeman is 33rd in the country with 10.15 assists per set. The setter also is a master a timing surprise strikes, posting 100 kills so far this season.

Freeman also is talented in service, tallying 24 aces, fourth on the Spartan squad. The setter also plays a valuable role on the Spartans back line, recording 377 digs this season, third on the team.

Libero: Rachel Gulasey

Gulasey is one of five Spartans to have played in every set this season and so far, she’s made the most of it. The sophomore libero leads the team in digs with 574 and is a key part of the Spartans nationally ranked defense. Gulasey and the Spartans are fourth in the nation in digs per set with 20.92.

Gulasey, a setter last year, took over the libero position after the graduation of Andrea Lamont. As a freshman Gulasey still managed to post the second highest number of digs on the team with 384, while finishing third in assists with 172.

Outside Hitter: No. 10 Beth Karpinski

Karpinski is one of two seniors on the CWRU squad and is the Spartan’s jack-of-all-trades. Returning from a season ending knee injury last year, she took the position of captain without losing a step. Karpinski ranks in the top five on the team in kills, service aces, digs and attacking percentage.

Coach Farrell:

“You know we could be anywhere from one to eight. There’s so many matches, you we could knock off Emory or we could lose. We can beat anyone in the UAA. Our goal last year was to finish higher than we did last year, we finished fifth and we’re seeded fifth.”

“If we were to beat Chicago and say NYU or WashU I think that we should be consider for [the top 25]. I think it would be hard to argue that a finish like that wouldn’t warrant a discussion for a national ranking.

“Chicago’s a big match for us, we went five with them. I felt like we left something on the table against them earlier this year and I’m hoping for a different result.”

“Best case scenario is first and we knock off Emory, that’s a pretty challenging match for us and the matchups are tough. Our team believes that on any given day we can’t beat anybody, so we’re going to walk into that match knowing we have a chance.”

“Rochester, I think we’re the stronger team but we’ve got to earn those points as well. If we’re going to beat our finish from last year we’ve got to beat them.”

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UAA Championship Volleyball Preview