Women's Volleyball Begins 2011 Campaign in Nation's Capital Friday
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Women's Volleyball Begins 2011 Campaign in Nation's Capital Friday

The George Mason women's volleyball team opens its 2011 campaign this weekend against a trio of local rivals, but the Patriots' goal for the season as a whole is simple: get back to the post-season and make a run at the program's ninth Colonial Athletic Association championship.

“Looking back on last year we saw there were numerous lost opportunities, and the outcome was very disappointing,” head coach Pat Kendrick explained of the team's fourth-place finish, but exclusion from the CAA tournament due to tiebreak.  “We know there will be chances for us to be successful this season.  Our goal is to make the most of whatever is put in front of us, and not have any doubt as to whether we did our best.”

Leading the way for Kendrick, who begins her 27th season at the helm of Patriots volleyball, is a quartet of fourth-year seniors. Highlighting that group is outside hitter Noelle Fanella, who earlier this week was selected to the Preseason All-CAA team after a junior season which saw her earn All-CAA second team accolades. Fanella led the team last season in points, kills and aces, the latter a statistic in which she ranked 27th nationally.

“Noelle has proven to be a very steady performer,” Kendrick said.   “From her great ball control to her ability to get kills for us, Noelle has shown she is someone on which we can rely.”

At the net, middle blocker Kelsey Bohman anchors a Mason blocking corps that has historically been among the best in the conference. 2011 should be no different, with Bohman returning for her final year after ranking 12th in the nation with 1.39 blocks per set.

“We've come to count on Kelsey's block as a weapon against opposing hitters,” Kendrick said. “She has the ability to control the net.”

Liberos Kelly McCarter and Katrina Boryc round out the senior class, and both have played a variety of roles in their careers at Mason. Kendrick believes both will continue to fill in the lineup as necessary and contribute this season.

“At the beginning of the 2010 season, Kelly switched from being an outside hitter to a libero,” Kendric k explained.” Kelly is a fierce competitor and brings this intensity to her new position.  Katrina has steady ball control and court awareness.  Both Kelly and Katrina will be counted on to help us win some big rallies.”

The Patriots feature a three-person junior class, headlined by starting middle blocker Danielle Cook, who was fourth in scoring among teammates last year including 88 blocks, second highest on the team. Outside hitter/right side Ran Yin and setter Lauren Goodell will both compete for playing time as Mason will look to rebound from the loss of its two seniors a year ago, Holly Goode and Fernanda Bartels.

“Dani is just starting to show she can be one of the best middle attackers in the CAA,” said Kendrick.  Her quick transition off and along the net will definitely give opposing teams problems this season.  Ran has been able to help us in a number of ways from her serving to her ability to attack the block.  Lauren has a great competitive spirit.  Her leadership on the court is what makes her invaluable.”

Three sophomores dot the roster, including CAA Co-Rookie of the Year Lana Zonjic. The outside hitter, who received Preseason All-CAA honorable mention, was third on the team in scoring and picked up the conference's weekly top rookie award three times in 2010. Middle blocker Laura Spencer and right side Tori Price will look to compete for court time as they begin their sophomore seasons as well.

“We're just starting to get a glimpse of how good a player Lana is, and we are looking for Lana to be a big contributor this season,” explained Kendrick.

Six newcomers join the Green and Gold in 2011 to begin their college careers, and Kendrick believes each will provide depth and balance across the lineup. The freshmen are defensive specialist/libero Sarah Chayra, outside hitter Alyson Farm, liberos Stephi Matsushima and Stephanie Minite, middle blocker Lolade Owokoniran, and setter Lauren Spear.

“This is definitely the largest class we've had in quite a while,” Kendrick said. “Their skill level will definitely give us some much-needed depth.

Mason will have one more newcomer on the bench as well, as assistant coach Dustin Wood joins the team in 2011 after working with the Patriots' men's volleyball squad last year.

The Patriots open the season with the annual D.C. Volleyball Challenge, this year being contested in the Nation's Capital at American (August 26) and George Washington (August 27). There, they will take on the host Eagles and Colonials along with Georgetown.

The following weekend, Mason welcomes UNC Greensboro, High Point and Navy for the Patriot Invitational on Saturday and Sunday, September 3-4. After that, the Patriots hit the road for tournaments hosted by Morehead State (Sep. 9-10) and Marshall (Sep. 16-17).

Conference play begins with a battle against VCU on Friday, September 23 at the RAC, with a matchup against William & Mary the following night. Three straight road matches follow, with the Patriots traveling to James Madison (Sep. 30), Towson (Oct. 7) and Delaware (Oct. 9).  The Patriots host a pair of northern conference rivals in Northeastern (Oct. 14) and Hofstra (Oct. 15), the latter being Mason's annual Dig Pink match to raise awareness for breast cancer research.

Mason closes out October with four matches on the road, traveling to William & Mary (Oct. 21), VCU (Oct. 22), Georgia State (Oct. 28) and UNC Wilmington (Oct. 30). The final three matches of the regular season will be played in Fairfax, as the Patriots host JMU (Nov. 5), Towson (Nov. 11) and Delaware (Nov. 12).

The Patriots will vie for one of the six spots available in the CAA Championship field, which will be contested November 19-20 at the highest seed. 


  • Please note the following parking changes for home volleyball matches this season at the Recreation & Athletic Complex (RAC): Fans attending games at the RAC may no longer park in Lot J without the proper permit. Free parking is available in Lot K (across from the Patriot Center) or the Patriot Village Lot (behind the RAC). Parking is also available for a fee at the Mason Pond Parking Deck.
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