Returning three of its top four hitters from a year ago, the top three blockers and servers, and two of the top four defensive players in tri-captains Jeanne McPhee '13 (main photo) and Katie Schad '13 (photo insert upper right), Wesleyan will be hoping to turn around some of it close decisions from the 2011 campaign and come away a NESCAC playoff contender.
The strength of the Cardinals' returning hitting and blocking is from its middle players Kim Farris '14, Monica Leslie '14 and tri-captain Laura Volgenau '13. The trio of six-footers (Leslie is the tallest at 6-2) were quite potent in their front-line roles as they combined to average 5.34 kills and 2.29 blocks per set last season. Farris also had a team-best 59 aces, followed by Schad with 50 and McPhee with 42. The Cardinals will look to ramp up its outside hitting with the graduation of hitting leader Casey Reed '12, who also was the recipient of Wesleyan's Maynard Award as the top senior scholar-athlete in 2011-12. Returnees at outside hitter include Alissa Santucci '13, Kate Centofanti '14 and Emily Shames '15. Santucci was a major force in 2010 averaging 1.45 kills and 2.09 digs per set while starting 22 of 23 matches. Centofanti averaged about one kill and one dig per set a year ago. A strong influx of newcomers also should add power to the team's hitting in 2012. In addition to McPhee and Schad as defensive specialists, Natalie Wildenradt '15 is back to add depth at the position as she played in 17 matches and contributed a dig per set on average.
Wesleyan has its starting setter back in Claire Larson '15, who averaged 8.56 assists a year ago after assuming first-string duties midway through the season.
Wesleyan was one of just three NESCAC teams to secure at least one set from each of its 10 conference rivals in 2011, a testament to the Cardinals' ability to take on the best the NESCAC had to offer.
Wesleyan gets the 2012 season underway Fri., Sept. 7 on the opening day of the Trinity Invitational, taking on Salve Regina. The tournament finishes up Sat., Sept. 8 with the Cardinals facing Eastern Connecticut and Lasell. The team's home opener is also the NESCAC opener when Middlebury comes to town Fri., Sept. 14. Wesleyan concludes the NESCAC weekend against Little Three foe Williams Sat., Sept. 15.