YORK, PA – York College head volleyball coach Sue DuMars enters her 19th year at the helm of the program excited and ready to see how her veteran team stacks up against a challenging schedule.
DuMars returns a core of talented and experienced players as the Spartans look to get back to the Capital Athletic Conference tournament after missing out after losing a coin toss last fall.
"We are experienced and I fully expect our upperclassmen to lead this team to a strong season," says DuMars. "We have three seniors who have given us very good leadership and a large group of juniors who are ready to take the next step as players. We are primed to have a very good season. It was a bitter way to end last season and we don't want to put ourselves in that position again."
Huston is a strong outside hitter who has become a player that can play through all six rotations.
In 2013, Huston registered 198 kills with a .135 attack percentage, 173 digs, 45 blocks, and an average of 2.27 points per set.
"Katie has always been a good hitter but her improved passing has really opened us up offensively," says DuMars. "I have high expectations for her senior season."
Martinak took over the offense midway through last year. The adjustment from outside hitter to setter wasn't always smooth but Martinak's work ethic helped make the conversion a successful one as the season progressed. In 2014, Martinak is running the offense at a high level.
"Kristin is really confident right now and her leadership has been fantastic," states DuMars. "We installed a new offense in the spring and Kristin has really taken to it. She is running the offense very efficiently right now. Her decision making and leadership is going to be key for us this year."
Schwarm is a player who has battled injuries during her career but is healthy heading into her final year wearing the Green and White. Schwarm has performed well in the fall practices as she works to earn a spot on the Spartan rotation.
"Jackie has battled through so many injuries during her career, it is great to see her putting herself in position to fight for a spot in the rotation," says DuMars. "She has provided us with leadership both on and off the floor."
Junior Charlotte Sabatano (Frederick, Md./Gov. Thomas Johnson), a transfer from Division II Holy Family, joined the Spartan program during the spring semester and was able to practice with the team during the non-traditional season with great success. Sabatano is a strong and aggressive player with a potent jump serve.
"Charlotte is a highly competitive player who elevates her teammates," says DuMars. "She packs a punch in her swing and will be a huge offensive weapon for us this fall."
Junior Alison Dorsey (Elkridge, Md./Long Reach) is another key returner as she anchors the middle for the Green and White. She is a versatile middle hitter who is comfortable in all the sets the Spartans run.
"Ali really has the opportunity to be one of the best middles not only in the conference but in our region," states DuMars. "She not only is long but she also has a very good vertical that gives us a big presence at the net."
Junior Katherine Graziano (Elkridge, Md./Archbishop Spalding) and sophomore Karli Hawxhurst (Prince Frederick, Md./Calvert) give York an exceptional defensive presence. Graziano will likely hold down the libero position while Hawxhurst is a very good defensive specialist who is also one of York's top servers.
"Katie is an aggressive player who has become a very consistent passer. She is a strong vocal leader whose coverage of the back line frees up Kristin to run the offense," says DuMars.
"Karli has been playing well during preseason practices," states the Spartan head coach. "She is an effective server who is also very good in serve receive."
Sophomore Phoebe Schmehl (Allentown, Pa./William Allen) is another middle who will likely play opposite Dorsey. She had a strong spring season and worked herself into the Spartans' plans for 2014.
"Phoebe has improved so much from last fall and I am excited to see what type of impact she can make this year," says DuMars. "She is very active around the net and has the ability to score for us."
There is a battle going on for the remaining outside hitter position as junior Emma Geisser (Derwood, Md./Magruder), freshman Kayla Gibbs (York, Pa./York Suburban), freshman Kelly Cavey (Hampstead, Md./Hereford), and Schwarm are all looking to earn a spot in the rotation. Geisser is a strong all around player and one of the Spartans' better passers. Gibbs is a dynamic athlete with a 23-inch vertical jump and a strong swing. Cavey has an overall game that will translate well to the collegiate game.
"I feel comfortable putting any of those four players out on the floor for us," says DuMars. "This competition has brought out the best in all of these kids."
Sophomores Heather Kline (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) and Sarah Wukitch (East Greenville, Pa./Southern Lehigh) are a pair of players who have switched positions after their freshman campaigns. Kline moves from the middle to an outside hitter while Wukitch is now the Spartans' reserve setter.
"Both Heather and Sarah have worked hard to adjust to their new positions," says DuMars. "Their hard work is really paying off as they continue to improve at a rapid pace."
Junior outside hitter Lindsay Jackson (Goshen, N.Y./Goshen Central), freshman setter Lauryn Stillman (Levittown, N.Y./General Douglas MacArthur), and freshman outsider hitter Ashley Graves (Huntingtown, Md./Patuxent) each give York outstanding depth at their respective positions.
DuMars is very excited to see what the Spartans can accomplish in 2014.
"I am looking forward to the start of the season," says DuMars. "We want to defend our title at the Moravian tournament and get off to a quick start. Our conference is going to be very challenging but I believe our schedule will prepare us for the rigors of conference play."
The Spartans open the campaign on Friday, August 29 when they play Centenary and Emmanuel in the opening round of the 12th Annual Greyhound Premiere Invitational tournament in Bethlehem, Pa.