Pioneers picked eighth in AMC preseason poll
Aug. 17, 2009
PITTSBURGH - The Point Park University volleyball team was picked to finish eighth in the American Mideast Conference in the 2009 NAIA Volleyball Conference Ratings preseason poll, which was released by the NAIA Monday.
After losing six seniors to graduation, the Pioneers are picked to finish in the same spot they found themselves in the conference standings at the end of last season. Point Park was 19-18 overall and 7-7 in the AMC in 2008 to finish in eighth place and one game out of the league playoffs.
Last year's regular season champion Walsh (29-13 overall, 13-1 AMC) was picked to finish first while AMC tournament champion Shawnee State (38-3, 12-2) was chosen second. The AMC has 13 teams, which is two less than last year. Ohio Dominican (23-11, 11-3) and Rio Grande (7-24, 0-14) are no longer AMC members.
Although the Pioneers are picked to finish in the bottom half of the league, that it probably due to the graduation of six players who helped turn the program around more so than anything. Gone are 2007 AMC North Player of the Year Erin Sneider as well as 2007 AMC North Setter of the Year Kala Schnur. Point Park also graduated Heather Pegg and Ashley Santavy, who each earned All-AMC North honors multiple times.
When those players were freshmen in 2005, first-year coach Mike Bruno inherited a team that had gone 0-18 in AMC play for three straight seasons. But Bruno, now in his fifth year, has led the Pioneers to a 72-74 record the last four seasons. Point Park made the AMC playoffs in 2006 and 2007 before falling one game shy last year.
And as the Pioneers try to put together their third straight winning season -- something that has never been done in school history - the cupboard is hardly bare of talent for the 2009 edition of Point Park volleyball.
Tri-captains Megan Lamens (New Baltimore/Berlin Bros.), Rachel Roddy (Greensburg/Greensburg Salem) and Ashley Zietak (Pittsburgh/Brashear) provide veteran leadership, and they are joined by sophomore setter Katie Geary (Pittsburgh/Shaler) in giving Point Park four returning starters.
Lamens is the lone senior, and she teams with Zietak, a junior, in solidifying the front line as a pair of 6-0 middle hitters. Zietak was an All-AMC third team selection last year, one season after being named the AMC North Freshman of the Year. Lamens, who is in her second season at Point Park since transferring from NCAA Divison III power Juniata, was an All-AMC honorable mention choice.
Roddy, a junior outside hitter, is in her second year as captain and is the Pioneers' leader on the floor. Roddy has an all-round game that has allowed her to rack up 931 digs and 744 kills her first two years. She had career highs of 538 digs and 414 as a freshman. At the end of the volleyball season, she will join the women's basketball team.
Geary split time with Schnur at setter in her freshman season, but is ready to build on the 559 assists that she recorded last season. Other returning letter winners include Zoe Hughes (Butler/Knoch), who had 184 digs and 152 kills, Jen Poland (Pittsburgh/Fox Chapel), who had 101 digs and Cassandra Maxwell (Burgettstown/Burgettstown), who saw action in 20 matches.
Among the key newcomers, Bruno has added three all-state players to his roster. With the addition of outside hitters Ali Gendron (Sheffield, Ohio/Brookside) and Lindsey Oberacker (Erie/McDowell) and right-side hitter Kirsten Burkes (Robinson/Montour), the Pioneers now have five all-state players on their team. Roddy and Hughes were each named all-state during their high school careers.
Bruno is in his 10th year as a head coach on the college level. Prior to Point Park, he spent five years at Waynesburg and amassed a record of 116-58. He enters the 2009 season 12 wins shy of 200 in his career (188-132).