2002 Volleyball Prospectus
Aug. 14, 2002
As Allison Keeley begins her second season at the helm of the Villanova volleyball program, she will continue to mold together a diverse group of upperclassmen and several talented newcomers who together will immediately be put to the test. Since becoming the head coach of the Wildcats in 2001, Keeley has seen her squad make great strides. As the 2002 season begins to shape up, the opportunity for continued improvement looks encouraging. The Wildcats have lost three key players to graduation but will look to rebuild with nine letter-winners returning to the line-up. Added to the mix is Keeley's first-ever recruiting class including three exciting freshmen that will aid in the 'Cats efforts to tally one of their best seasons in recent years.
A four-year starting senior and tri-captain, Mathews led the team in kills per game (2.92) and digs per game (3.20) in 2001, and will be called upon to carry a large portion of the offensive load in the upcoming season as well. "Leah is our most experienced and consistent returner," Keeley said. "For us to succeed, she will need to lead by example and be a motivating force throughout the season." Mathews currently ranks sixth all-time in Villanova career digs with 899 heading into her final season. Last year, she led the team in digs in 14 of the 27 matches while recording 10 double-doubles during the season.
Birunas saw action in more than half of the matches for Villanova last season and this season will give the Wildcats an offensive threat from the left side. "Erin had a terrific off-season and if she can stay healthy, will be a big key to our success in 2002," said Keeley.
Junior Kate Tucker and rookies Dana Kabashima and Celine Nguyen will also vie for playing time at outside hitter. Tucker brings game experience playing in 63 games over the last two seasons while contributing 71 kills and 68 digs. Kabashima and Nguyen, both members of the All-Bay area first team in 2001, will give the 'Cats terrific depth at the outside hitting position.
Also adding depth will be senior Sylvia Taggart and sophomore Megan Walsh. Taggart will provide the Wildcats with a great deal of athleticism while Walsh will battle for time at the rightside hitter position.
Sophomore Katie Lanting and freshman Megan Abbott bring a lot of untapped potential and will give Keeley's team more options in the middle. One year ago, Lanting contributed 52 kills and 17 blocks in 42 games. Abbott, one of the tallest players to ever wear a Villanova uniform, will give the Wildcats an immediate threat at 6'4.