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wesleyan volleyball 2019 season preview

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. - The Wesleyan University volleyball team is coming off a historic 2018 season, in which it reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever. Having lost just two players from last year due to graduation, and boasting a stellar senior class, the Cardinals earned the No. 12 ranking in the 2019 AVCA Division III Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.

Wesleyan, who posted a 20-6 overall record and 9-1 NESCAC mark a year ago, opens the new season on Friday, September 6th at home against Rhode Island College (6 p.m.). The Cardinals’ schedule is loaded with home matches this year, including three tournaments in Silloway Gymnasium.

Head coach ben somera's thoughts

“We have a talented group this year that will make our gym the most competitive environment we have had in my tenure at Wesleyan. I believe there are a number of teams on our schedule who are equally as talented, which should give us really good feedback on where our strengths and weakness lie at different points in the season. Over the past two years, we have accomplished a lot of program firsts and I think expectations are high, so it is going to be crucial to understand that our past accomplishments are in the past. While we can draw on the things that have propelled our program to national prominence, this season is about the foundation our returners laid in the off-season and the work we put in moving forward. You don't receive a return ticket to the NCAA Elite Eight because you went the year before, you have to put in the work each day, week, and month to be there at the end.”

key returners

#14 Kaira muraoka-robertson

Photo by Jonas Powell '18

Coming off an excellent season in which she earned All-America Honorable Mention, the senior setter will look to lead a potent offense once again this fall.

#16 nicole hilton

Photo by Jonas Powell '18

An All-American and 2017 NESCAC Player of the Year, Hilton is incredibly efficient and a force at net. Her play is crucial to Wesleyan’s success.

#25 stasie litinsky

Photo by Jonas Powell '18

Another former All-American, Litinsky led the team in kills (258) a year ago and is one of the top attackers in the NESCAC.

#10 olivia guidotti

Photo by David Hague

Guidotti has been excellent defensively for the Cardinals and will once again play a prominent role as Wesleyan looks to return to the NCAA Tournament.

#15 Gabby bennett

Photo by Steve McLaughlin

Bennett was sidelined last year due to injury but will look to regain her sophomore year form. A force at net, Bennett led the team in blocks (81) two years ago.

#24 mia hogan

Photo by David Hague

Hogan had a breakout sophomore season for Wesleyan en route to All-NESCAC honors. She finished the year ranked second on the team in kills (226).

#9 Phia bellizzi

Photo by Jonas Powell '18

Bellizzi made an immediate impact when she joined the Cardinals in 2017 and has led the team in digs the past two seasons. The All-American libero has proved she is one of the top defensive specialists in the country.

#3 jenna otaola

Photo by David Hague

Otaolo is another excellent defensive specialist for the Cardinals and finished her freshman season ranked third on the team in digs (247).

#17 mia jago

Photo by Jonas Powell '18

Jago will look to build off an impressive freshman season in which she earned a NESCAC Player of the Week honor.

newcomers

olivia adams

  • Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
  • Position: MB, OH

Bella ahearn

  • Hometown: Orlando, Fla.
  • Position: OH, OPP

grace bell

  • Hometown: Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Position: L, DS

Sarah Brown

  • Hometown: Amarillo, Texas
  • Position: S

Grace Dennis

  • Hometown: Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
  • Position: S

Brina kuslak

  • Hometown: Lindale, Texas
  • Position: MB, OPP, RS

chloe mauceri

  • Hometown: Santa Barbara, Calif.
  • Position: OPP, RS

the coaching staff

Ben Somera enters his fifth season at Wesleyan and has completely revitalized the program in a short period of time. The Cardinals are coming off back-to-back 20-win seasons under Somera, which have included two NCAA Tournament appearances, an Elite Eight appearance, and a NESCAC Championship. Somera welcomes assistant coach Mark Ogilvie to the staff in 2019.

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