Sagehens Open 2014 Season With Pacific Coast Classic

Sagehens Open 2014 Season With Pacific Coast Classic

Claremont, Calif. - The Pomona-Pitzer Volleyball team, which is coming off its first NCAA appearance since 1997, will open its 2014 season with the Pacific Coast Classic on Friday and Saturday. 

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The Sagehens will serve as one of three hosts of the annual tournament, which will also feature matches at CMS and at La Verne. Pomona-Pitzer opens the tournament on Friday with a 9 a.m. match against Kean, followed immediately by an 11 a.m. match against Texas-Tyler. Saturday's schedule includes an 11 a.m. match against Whitworth and a 3:30 p.m. match against Wheaton.

Pomona-Pitzer tallied a 20-9 record in 2013, including 12-4 in the SCIAC, earning an at large bid to the NCAA Division III Championships. The Sagehens traveled to Trinity University in San Antonio for the NCAAs, falling in four sets to Texas Dallas in their first NCAA appearance since meeting CMS in the 1997 season.

Leading the way was current senior outside hitter Allie Frappier, who led the nation (all divisions) in kills per set at 5.96, and was named a first-team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Frappier, in her first season with the Sagehens after transferring from Yale, broke the school record for kills in a match with 40 in a four-set win over CMS, tying the NCAA Division III record for a four-set match in the 25-point era. 

Frappier is one part of a deep senior class that will have a pivotal role in the team's success this year. Ellen Yamasaki has been a versatile player throughout her career as a hitter and setter, tallying 207 assists, 180 kills and 148 digs last year. Dani Kritter is in her fourth season as a regular setter and is coming off a 425-assist season. Middle hitters Kirea Mazzolini (97 blocks) and Samantha Cahill (92 blocks) provide a formidable one-two punch defensively.

Michelle Schultz also has a wealth of an experience as a junior, with two years under her belt and finished last season with 171 kills and 324 digs. She will likely see most of her time as a libero this season due to her strong defensive ability. Emma Burdekin has also played as both a middle hitter and an outside hitter and brings the Sagehens added versatility. 

The seven-member sophomore class helped the Sagehens reach the NCAA Tournament as freshmen and will all look to have expanded roles this season. Twins Elizabeth Sun and Stephanie Sun contributed to last year's postseason run at setter and outside hitter, respectively, while Kelli Derrah had 138 kills as a freshman outside hitter. Samantha Quesada-Diaz and Lena Fox earned time in the rotation as outside hitters as well, while Natalie Lindeman will look to increase her role as a defensive specialist with the graduation of seniors Beth Smilkstein and Nicole Bauthier off last season's squad. Sarah Gamble also earned some experience in the middle last season and will look for additional action this fall.  

Although this year's team has a wealth of returning talent, the freshman class will look to carve out playing time of their own. Setter Jessica Finn, outside hitter Kate Porter, middle hitters Avery Neil and Mara Burns and defensive specialist Natalie Martin all have the potential to make the Pomona-Pitzer roster even deeper and more dangerous. 

After hosting the Pacific Coast Classic, the Sagehens will travel to Cal Lutheran next week for the Posada Royale Invitational.