Volleyball Opens 2010 Season Today
Aug. 27, 2010
PITTSBURGH - Coming off a 16 win season - the most since 2002 - the Duquesne volleyball team will enter the 2010 season with one of its most talented squads in years. The Dukes are returning nine players from last year's team and have three gifted newcomers as they begin their pursuit for the Atlantic 10 Championship.
At middle hitter, the Dukes return a pair of all-conference performers in juniors Nicole Wright and Liz Homan. The duo, which combined for 585 kills last season, will be joined by sophomore Ashley Buse and senior Kristen Hammergren. Wright, who missed the 2008 season with an injury, returned to the floor to lead the Dukes with 321 kills. Homan is coming off a 20009 season in which she recorded a career-best 267 kills and 27 blocks. Buse had a stellar freshman season, recording 142 kills. Hammergren will add depth and experience off the bench.
2009 All-Rookie performer sophomore Sara Scheirman, senior Katie Goss and sophomore Brittany Poling return at the outside hitter position. They will be joined by freshmen Alex Smartt and Allison Foschia. Scheirman finished her first season on the Bluff with 281 kills while being named A-10 Rookie of the Week two times in 2009. Goss played in 29-of-30 matches last season and has been one of the Dukes most consistent players in her three years. Poling missed all but four matches last season after an injury sidelined her. She took a medical redshirt and will have three years of eligibility remaining. Smartt, a freshman from Longwood, Fla., led her Lake Mary squad to a 22-5 record and a conference championship her senior season. She finished 2009 with 215 kills. Foschia, who was ranked #83 on the PrepVolleyball.com Top 100 Players in Country, finished high school career with 927 kills.
The setter position will be battled out by junior Sarah Svorinic and freshman Kate Begor. Svorinic finished last season with 238 assists while backing up Chelsea Tillotson. Begor was named the 2009 Gatorade Pennsylvania Volleyball Player of the Year and was the 2009 Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League MVP. She averaged 13.5 assists per match while leading Mt. Lebanon to the PIAA Class AAA semifinals her senior season. Also at setter this season is walk-on Shelby Knopick, who joined the team in early August.
Senior Amy Palko will serve as the Dukes' libero. Palko, who recorded her 1,000th career dig last season against Wright State, needs only 448 digs to become Duquesne's all-time leader. She is currently fourth all-time with 1,228 digs. The non-conference schedule will feature four tournaments and matches against a pair of long-time rivals. The 2010 season opens up at the new-look A.J. Palumbo Center for the Courtyard by Marriott Invitational on Aug. 27-28. This year's event features Lehigh, Montana State, Morgan State, Radford, and Saint Francis, Pa. The following weekend, the Dukes will travel to Madison, Wis. to participate in the Inntowner Invitational on Sept. 3-4. In addition to facing host Wisconsin, DU will play Loyola, Ill. and Chicago State. On Sept. 7, Duquesne will venture to Loretto, Pa. to take on long-time foe Saint Francis, Pa. The Dukes have only dropped one of 26 matches to the Red Flash in a series that has been played since 1986. DU makes it second trip into Big Ten territory on Sept. 10-11 when they play in the Active Ankle Challenge. Duquesne's opening match will be against the host team Purdue followed by Belmont and Connecticut. The Dukes return home to host cross-town rival Robert Morris on Sept. 14. The final tournament of the season will be Kent State Invitational on Sept. 17-18. After opening up with the host team, DU will face Syracuse and Louisiana-Monroe on the final day. The final non-conference match of the season is Oct. 19 when Duquesne faces West Virginia in the Dig Pink match.
The Atlantic 10 will continue the same scheduling and championship format introduced prior to last season. Each team will play a 15-game conference schedule, highlighted by home-and-home matches against six opponents. Duquesne will play Charlotte, George Washington, La Salle, Rhode Island, Saint Louis and Temple two times and Dayton, Fordham and Xavier once. The top six teams qualify for the 2010 Atlantic 10 Championship, which will be held Nov. 19-21 at the Cintas Center on Xavier's campus. The conference champion will be awarded an automatic bid to the 2010 NCAA Championship.