University of Delaware Volleyball To Open 2014 Season This Weekend By Hosting UD Courtyard by Marriott Invitational
The tournament opens on Friday when Rhode Island takes on Loyola Chicago at 4 p.m., before Delaware begins its campaign by facing Albany at 7 p.m.
Albany and Rhode Island will face off at 11 a.m. on Saturday, while the Blue Hens battle Loyola Chicago at 1 p.m. Loyola Chicago then plays Albany at 4 p.m., before Delaware takes on Rhode Island in the final match at 7 p.m.
Delaware, led by 13th-year head coach Bonnie Kenny, will look to bounce back from a 2013 season that saw the Blue Hens finish 11-17 overall and 3-11 in the conference. UD, which returns four starters and eight letterwinners as the Blue Hens attempt to qualify for the CAA Tournament for the eighth time in nine seasons, was picked sixth in the CAA Preseason Poll.
Junior Ariel Shonk will lead Delaware after earning third team All-CAA honors for the second consecutive year in 2013, when she ranked second in the conference and 11th in Division I with 5.52 digs per set. Shonk reached double figure digs in all but two matches during the year, and posted eight 30-dig matches on the campaign.
Fellow juniors Katie Hillman and Chandler Bryant will look to pace the Delaware attack after both players started all 28 matches a year ago. Hillman, a Preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention pick, led the squad and ranked fifth in the CAA with 3.15 kills per set and recorded a career-high 28 kills during a win over UMBC, the sixth most in a match in UD history. Bryant paced the Blue Hens and was eighth in the CAA with a .259 hitting percentage, while she finished third on the team with 2.16 kills per set.
Albany is looking to improve on its 9-19 record a year ago, although the Great Danes did finish 9-5 in the America East. Sophomore Amanda Dolan, the 2013 America East Rookie of the Year, returns after leading the team with 189 kills and 91 blocks during her rookie campaign, while junior Tatum Jungsten added 179 kills and 57 blocks. Sophomore Mikala McCauley, a conference All-Rookie Pick last season, also returns as the Great Danes’ setter after she handed out 7.31 assists per set in 2013.
Loyola Chicago is coming off a 13-18 campaign a season ago, when the Ramblers finished 7-11 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Sophomore Morgan Reardon, a Preseason All-MVC selection, led Loyola Chicago with 213 kills and 3.61 kills per set last season, while Libby Bresser contributed 172 kills and a team-high 96 blocks. Junior setter Brittany Brown, who dished out 7.60 assists per set a year ago, also returns for the Ramblers.
Rhode Island finished 15-16 overall last season, and the Rams were an even 7-7 in Atlantic 10 play. URI will be led by sophomore Callan Kinnan, a 2013 A-10 All-Rookie selection who led the conference by averaging 10.42 assists per set. Junior Franki Darnold also returns after pacing the squad with 418 kills and 3.73 kills per set, while Layne Self added 239 kills and a team-leading 140 blocks while earning league All-Rookie Team honors.
Fan cards compliments of the UD Courtyard by Marriott will be given out to the first 300 Blue Hen fans at Friday’s match against Albany, while the first 150 fans of both Saturday matches will also receive fan cards. Delaware Volleyball t-shirts compliments of First State Orthopaedics will be given to the first 200 fans of Saturday’s 7 p.m. match against Rhode Island, while a postgame autograph session featuring the entire Blue Hen team will take place following the 7 p.m. matches on both nights.
Additionally, in-game promotions featuring National 5&10 will take place during all three of Delaware’s matches during the tournament.