2008-2009 Baldwin Wallace University Volleyball Preview
BEREA, OHIO -- In 2008, the Baldwin Wallace University volleyball team hopes once again to hold the Ohio Athletic Conference championship trophy over its head when the OAC Tournament draws to a close in early November. But even though the Yellow Jackets have lost a bevy of talent to graduation and only have one senior returning, veteran Head Coach Vicki Brault is confident that her team will return to the top of one of Division III’s toughest conferences.
Brault, one of the top coaches in all of Division III, returns for her 14th season at the helm of the Yellow Jacket program. She has an impressive 341-211 career record, including a 271-161 mark at BW with an 80-38 slate against OAC foes. Her teams have won three OAC regular season crowns and one OAC Tournament title and twice advanced to the NCAA Division III National Tournament.
“Our program has great tradition,” said Brault. “The tradition began with the legendary Marcie French and I am priviledged to have the opportunity to work to keep it strong.
“Our student-athletes are aware of the tradition and proud of it and proud to be a part of it,” said Brault. “Every year, our goal is to win the prestigious OAC title and have an opportunity to represent the conference at the NCAA Tournament level.”
BW finished last season with an 18-14 overall record, including a 6-3 mark in the OAC, while playing one of the most competitive schedules in the country. Gone are four-time All-OAC outside hitter Kelsey Hills, 2007 OAC Libero of the Year Meggie Marten and four-year contributor and hitter Betsy Gilbert.
This season, the Yellow Jackets again will compete at the highest level with no room for letdowns. The team will be led by senior middle hitter Maria DePeters (Williamsville, N.Y./ Mt. St. Mary Academy) along with seven other letterwinners who contributed a year ago. DePeters will be one of the top returning hitters in the OAC this season and had 434 kills and 115 total blocks in ‘07.
“Maria is an outstanding student-athlete and team-leader,” said Brault. “We will build our team around her and she will be the focal point of our attack on offense.”
The other returning starters include sophomore setter Casey Passen (Ashville/ Teays Valley), who tallied 1,362 assists and 270 digs in 2007; sophomore defensive specialist and outside hitter Rebecca Pittenger (Alliance/ Senior), who had 123 kills and 249 digs; and sophomore defensive specialist Melissa Grame (Berea), who recorded 286 digs.
In addition, the Yellow Jackets also return junior defensive specialist Marissa Jameyson (Wellington), sophomore middle hitter Abbey Thompson (Lorain/ Clearview), sophomore outside hitter Nicole Bates (Elyria/ Senior) and sophomore setter and rightside player Ashley Hilborn (Fredericktown/ Sparta Highland). All four earned varsity letters in 2007. BW also welcomes transfer junior setter Kayli Tyson (Olmsted Falls), who sat out last season, and a handful of talented first-year student-athletes to help the push for another OAC title.
BW opens 2008 play on Friday and Saturday, August 29-30 at the Hornet Invitational Tournament at Kalamazoo (Mich.) College. In addition to the annually rugged OAC schedule, BW will host the 11th Annual Marcia French Memorial Tournament on September 5-6 and travel to the College of Mount St. Joseph Tournament on Sept. 26-27, the Washington (Mo.) University Invitational on Oct. 10-11 and play at the Midwest Invitational at Calvin (Mich.) College on Oct. 31-November 1.
“Our schedule is very challenging and we like it that way,” said Brault. “By playing a challenging schedule in dual matches, during the OAC regular season and in tournament play, we prepare our student-athletes for success. We look forward to beginning our season on August 29.”