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Meredith DeMeules '02
Senior co-captain Erin Dittus finished second on the team with 232 kills last season

Volleyball Sets Sights on 10th Straight Postseason Appearance

August 9, 2002

2001 Recap
A 24-7 overall record, eight wins in 10 conference matches and a ninth consecutive postseason appearance would have constituted a spectacular season for most college volleyball programs. Yet, while its achievements were impressive, head coach Sue Everden's club has grown accustomed to exceptionally high standards, thanks in large part to its trio of consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (from 1998 to 2000) and back-to-back NESCAC Championships (1999 & 2000) entering the 2001 season. Vying for its fourth straight NCAA Tournament bid, Amherst qualified for and earned the No. 3 seed in the 2001 NESCAC Postseason Championship Tournament, advancing to the semifinals with a 3-0 quarterfinal win over Colby College. There they faced eventual NCAA New England Regional finalist Williams College, which handed Amherst a season-ending 3-1 loss – its first in two years of NESCAC Tournament domination. The setback put a damper on what Amherst hoped would be yet another quest for an NCAA Championship. Nonetheless the team had much to be proud of, like its 11-match winning streak during the regular season and its first-place showing at the Amherst Invitational Tournament, thanks to 3-0 tournament victories over Westfield State, Eastern Connecticut State and Coast Guard. Furthermore, Amherst finished the season ranked fourth in New England and – with a roster stocked with talented returnees – the future once again looks bright.

Key Losses
To return to dominance in the NESCAC, Amherst will have to overcome the loss of its two best players – co-captains Meredith DeMeules and Erica Hewes – who graduated as the winningest volleyball class in school history with a 105-23 overall record in four seasons. A first-team All-NESCAC selection for three consecutive seasons, Hewes, an outside hitter, powered the Amherst attack averaging 4.33 kills and 0.82 blocks as a senior. DeMeules earned Second-Team All-NESCAC honors after pacing the Jeffs with 627 assists and 343 digs. A three-time all-conference selection, DeMeules was also a two-time NESCAC All-Academic honoree and twice earned conference Player of the Week honors as a junior.

Key Returnees
After losing its top hitter (Hewes) and its top setter (DeMeules), Amherst will rely heavily on a veteran defense led by senior co-captain Missy Mordy and classmate Irene Lee, who combined for 502 digs in 2001. Fellow senior Paula Yanes will provide additional support in the back row, while senior co-captain Erin Dittus, who was second on the team with 232 kills last season, will look to fill the void left by Hewes at outside hitter. Juniors Lauren Wong and Jessica Allen will also need to step up. Wong led the NESCAC in blocks at 1.34 per game as a first-year and was sixth in the conference last season, averaging 1.04, while Allen was steady all season long at outside hitter with 72 kills, 34 service aces and 240 digs as a sophomore. A trio of sophomores – setter Annie Hoeksma, outside hitter Nicole Davidson and defensive specialist Greta Anderson – also return. Under DeMeules' tutelage, Hoeksma had one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, dishing out 462 assists, ripping 57 service aces and finishing fifth in the NESCAC in blocks at 1.06 per game – a rare feat for a setter. Davidson was similarly impressive with 52 kills and 32 service aces, while Anderson saw limited action but gained valuable experience as a first-year.

Amherst boasts a trio of solid newcomers in Natalie Soud, Sara Bruggeman and Kate Raddock. Everden describes Soud, a 6' 1" outside hitter from Jacksonville, Florida, as "…possibly the next Erica Hewes." Bruggeman is a Colorado native who, with her 5' 11" frame, is a strong blocker up front, while Raddock was one of the top high school hitters in Connecticut and plays with a style similar to that of Davidson. Sophomore outside hitter Elizabeth Braemer will also join the team after sitting out the 2001 season.

Amherst's 2002 slate is demanding to say the least, with each of its 10 NESCAC matches on the road at a trio of conference quads hosted by Connecticut College, Tufts University and Colby College. Furthermore, the Jeffs bolstered their schedule with a host of non-conference matches against Mt. Holyoke College, Smith College, Western Connecticut State University, Keene State College and Westfield State, and will host a pair of tournaments – the Amherst Classic and, along with Smith, the annual Hall of Fame Invitational. The 2002 NESCAC Championship Tournament kicks off Friday, November 8, with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament at stake.