The Coast Guard volleyball team returns senior co-captain Kelsey DePorto, a three-time first team All-conference selection as the Bears, who have earned either an ECAC or NCAA postseason tournament berth in ten of the last 12 seasons, look to once again return to postseason play.
First-year head coach Aylene Ilkson, who was an assistant at NEWMAC rival Springfield for the past three seasons, takes over a team that was 18-14 overall and 6-3 in the NEWMAC last season and has advanced to the conference tournament semifinals for 12 straight seasons.
The Bears must replace All-conference selections Keriann Mason and Karen Matic along with Catherine Walker, who had stellar careers for the Academy. The trio led the Bears to a pair of ECAC Championships, a NEWMAC regular season and tournament championships and a second round appearance in the NCAA tournament in 2010 and had a record of 102-31 over the past four years.
"We are young but talented and opening up with back-to-back tournaments will certainly give our team time to increase its chemistry on the floor heading into a challenging conference schedule," said Ilkson.
The Bears open at home with the Bear Invitational on Aug. 30th and 31st before travelling to the Brandeis Invitational the following weekend.
"I am counting on the leadership of senior co-captains Kelsey DePorto and Sam Marmolejo to bring this team together in order to be playing our best volleyball by the beginning of November," added Ilkson.
DePorto will lead the Bears offense and be supported by freshman Susan West and Rebecca Mueller as well as sophomores Kelsey Hickle and Ashley Dumont. DePorto led the Bears with a .356 hitting percentage and 105 blocks and was second with 274 kills last season while Hickle, who missed last season with a serious illness, had 224 kills and 107 digs as a freshman in 2011.
The Bears defense will be led by Marmolejo, the Bears libero. She brings intensity to the court each and every day and led the team with 518 digs a year ago.
Sophomore Maggie Hine, will be expected to run the offense as the setter replacing Matic. Hine saw action in 96 games last season and was second with 377 assists to go with 107 digs.
"Coming to the Coast Guard Academy, I knew these players would be hard workers," said Ilkson. "Seeing their day-to-day military and academic responsibilities, I'm amazed with the effort they give in practice each and every day."