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2007 Elizabethtown College Volleyball Preview

After winning 26 matches in 2006 and advancing to the Commonwealth Conference championship match for the first time in 11 years, the Elizabethtown College volleyball team has its sights set on the program’s first-ever conference title as it prepares to open the 2007 season on Saturday, Sept. 1 at McDaniel College.

The Blue Jays return all but one player from last year’s squad, which posted winning streaks of 10, eight and six matches en route to the program’s highest win total since 1995. Head coach Randall Kreider, who earned conference Coach of the Year honors in 2006, begins his sixth season on the Etown bench after earning his 100th career victory in a conference semifinal victory over Moravian College.

Most significantly, Elizabethtown will benefit from the departure of Juniata College from the Commonwealth Conference. The Eagles, who have won 26 consecutive conference championships and captured their second national title in 2006, changed conferences along with Moravian and Susquehanna University and were replaced by Lycoming College to leave the Commonwealth Conference with six teams.

The Blue Jay lineup will be led by senior middle hitter Kelly Downs (Airville, PA/Red Lion), who was named first-team All-Commonwealth Conference, first-team Academic All-District and second-team Academic All-America after leading the conference with 1.16 blocks per game (137 total), leading the team with 349 kills and ranking fourth in the conference with a .320 hitting percentage. For her career, Downs ranks third in program history with 1,021 kills.

Fellow senior Ashley Whitmarsh (New Castle, DE/Padua Academy) also earned All-Conference honors last season after finishing third on the squad in both kills (291) and digs (313), and needs just 69 kills to become the fifth player in program history to reach 1,000 kills. Sophomore Paige Tanner (Waynesboro, PA/Waynesboro) added 317 kills and 329 digs to go with 29 aces, and sophomore Kayla Deats (Middlebury Center, PA/Wellsboro) chipped in with 199 killls and a .271 hitting percentage in her first year with the Blue Jays.

Senior Stacey Wasserman (Upperco, MD/Owings Mills) dished out 1,160 assists last season, just 74 shy of the single-season program record and her second straight year of over 1,000 assists. She holds the program career record of 3,190 assists while her 972 career digs leave her 28 shy of becoming the eighth player in Elizabethtown history to reach 1,000 digs.

On defense, senior Kayla Kassis (Bethlehem, PA/Liberty) also returns after she recorded 232 digs last season and added 25 aces.

The Blue Jays open their 2007 home schedule on Tuesday, Sept. 4 against Division II Shippensburg University in Thompson Gymnasium. Elizabethtown’s first conference match will be on Tuesday, Sept. 18 at Widener University.