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2012 Penn State Altoona Women's Volleyball Season Preview
8/31/2012 — After winning their second-ever Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference championship last season, the Penn State Altoona women’s volleyball team will look to defend its title in 2012 by wiping the slate clean and starting with a fresh perspective.
“I’m taking the approach of starting over with the basics,” said fifth-year head coach Phil Peterman, who was named the AMCC’s 2011 Coach of the Year for women’s volleyball. “Our goal is to repeat as AMCC champions, but we don’t want to overlook any of the competition or the little things on the court.”
Peterman returns seven players from last season’s team that won 18 games and earned a berth to the NCAA Division III Regional Tournament in November. One of the most significant returners is 2011 AMCC Newcomer of the Year Robin Tabaka (New Stanton, PA/Hempfield). Tabaka, a sophomore middle hitter, led the Lady Lions in total blocks with 63 and ranked sixth in the conference with 0.68 blocks per set. Two other sophomore returners, Moira Corrigan (Havertown, PA/Haverford) and Jessica O’Donnell (Langhorne, PA/Neshaminy), will further add to the team’s net presence.
“It’s great to have those three back. They bring power and height to the net, as well as the experience that we have been lacking in years past,” said Peterman.
Sophomore Emily Frye (Etters, PA/Red Land) is another important returner. After serving as a defensive specialist last season, Frye will step into the role of the squad’s starting setter, which was vacated after the graduation of last year’s setter, Kelsie Bumbarger.
“Last year, Emily did a great job coming in and serving and playing as a defensive specialist,” explained Peterman. “This year, she’s taking over the role of starting setter. She will have a hard time replacing Kelsie, but she will have many weapons to fill the void.”
The Lady Lions were able to add more experience and skill to their team with the transfer of junior middle hitter Mariah McDowell (Morrisdale, PA/West Branch) from Mount Aloysius College to Penn State Altoona. McDowell was a first team All-AMCC selection for the Lady Mounties last season.
“Mariah was a great addition to the team. She brings power, blocking, and height to our starting lineup,” said Peterman. “She can play any position and will rarely be out of the game.”
Peterman expects a trio of freshmen, Becky Britton (Northern Cambria, PA/Northern Cambria), Amanda Hammer (Greencastle, PA/Greencastle-Antrim), and Rachele Mash (Greensburg, PA/Hempfield), to contribute to the team right away.
“They will each play a key role this upcoming season and will all help our passing in the back row,” he said. “Rachele will anchor the defense, while Amanda and Becky will help by bringing big swings on the outside.”
After being picked to finish first in the AMCC’s Preseason Poll for women’s volleyball, Peterman is optimistic that his team will rise to the occasion and back up their reputation as the conference’s top squad.
“I truly believe that my team as an excellent chance of repeating as AMCC champs,” Peterman said. “We will rely heavily on Emily Frye getting our big guns the ball and running the offense. Staying healthy will also be a major key to making a run for the championship.”
Penn State Altoona women’s volleyball opens its season at the Gettysburg College Battlefield Classic on Friday, August 31 and Saturday, September 1.
Photo: Penn State Altoona sophomore middle hitter Robin Tabaka will be one of her team's keys to success this season.