Sara Bruggeman '06 & Natalie Soud '06
Senior tri-captains Sara Bruggeman (left) Natalie Soud (right) look to lead the Jeffs to their 13th consecutive postseason appearance this fall.

Volleyball Eyes 13th Straight Postseason Appearance

by Laura Turner, The Amherst Student

September 7, 2005

The Amherst College women's volleyball team is poised for the 2005 season after an impressive 23-7 record last year. The Jeffs return several experienced players and look to incorporate a fresh crop of newcomers into the team.

The Jeffs lost four players to graduation and the toughest shoes to fill will be those of setter Annie Hoeksma. A three-year starter and three-time All-NESCAC honoree, she piled up 3,507 assists, 545 kills, 651 digs and 297 blocks in her collegiate career. Also gone are Nikki Davidson, Greta Anderson and Liz Braemer. Davidson tallied 644 career kills, while Anderson and Braemer provided key backup roles. All four will be sorely missed this season.

Meanwhile, it will be up to senior tri-captains Natalie Soud, Sara Bruggeman and Kate Raddock to step up and lead the team. Soud has been a solid contributor to the team throughout her career and Bruggeman has been a consistent force with 144 kills and 61 blocks last season. Raddock paced the team defensively last season with 342 digs.

Also returning for the Jeffs is standout junior Kristin Quinn, who received First Team All-NESCAC honors last season and NESCAC Rookie of the Year accolades in 2003. She led the conference with 1.44 blocks per game and a hitting percentage of .426 last fall, while finishing eighth in the NESCAC in kills per game (3.73). Fellow junior Laura Golden tallied 120 digs last season and will help out defensively again this year. Sophomore Jaclyn DeMais accumulated 224 kills as a rookie and classmate Julie Berkley racked up an impressive 298 digs.

An impressive group of six first-years and a sophomore transfer all look to contribute this fall. Joining the team are sophomore Whitney Kouvaris and rookies Sara Meegan, Sara Heller, Hannah Wirth, Alison Munzer, Claire Holton-Basaldua and Sara Greene.

Amherst made its 12th consecutive appearance in the NESCAC Championship Tournament last year. As the No. 3 seed, the Jeffs blanked sixth-seeded Bates, 3-0, but suffered a heart-breaking 3-2 loss at the hands of Tufts in the semifinals. They hope to improve on last season's stellar overall record with the ultimate goal of winning the NESCAC Championships this year. "It would be amazing to win NESCACs," said Raddock. "I personally would like that to be a goal." How close to that goal the Jeffs will get this season will depend greatly on the leadership ability of the captains and cohesiveness of the new team. "Expectations are high in terms of attitude and hustle, which easily can make or break any volleyball team," added Raddock. Overall, with many experienced returnees and several promising first-years, the Jeffs have every reason to be fired up for this season.

The Jeffs open their season at the Western New England College Invitational on Friday, Sept. 9. Their first home match will be played against Keene State University on Sept. 14 in LeFrak Gymnasium at 7 p.m.

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