2014 Volleyball Season Preview Series - Top DIII ReturnersAugust 14, 2014
Following a tightly contested 2013 season, NJCAA Division III Volleyball enters 2014 with a wide open field of competitive teams vying for the national championship. With a ton of talent from last year returning for their sophomore season, teams across the nation are eagerly awaiting the first serve of 2014.
The DIII ranks of NJCAA Volleyball will see several of last year’s top kill producers returning for their second season. The total number of attacking players returning this season after playing at least 30 sets in 2014 includes – 62 outside hitters, 47 middle blockers and 28 right-side or
After leading the nation with 606 total kills as a freshman, Finger Lakes (N.Y.) outside hitter
Ryenn Smith is back for her sophomore year. Smith propelled the Lakers to a 26-16 record
behind 4.36 kills and 3.34 digs per set and looks to take her team to new heights in 2014.
In the middle of the front line, few players showed the offensive skill that was displayed by Aleksandra Travoric of Passaic County (N.J.). The Panthers’ middle blocker averaged 4.14 kills and 1.34 digs per set as a freshman. Going 10-10 in 2013, Passaic County’s improvement this season could rest on the shoulders of Travoric.
Other top returning attackers of note include Rockingham (N.C.) middle blocker Chanteona
Joyce, Joliet (Ill.) outside hitter Madeline Hipp and SUNY Delhi (N.Y.) outside hitter Nicole
Click here for complete list of top returning Outside Hitters.
Click here for complete list of top returning Middle Blockers.
Click here for complete list of top returning Right-side/Opposite Hitters.
While the kills put down by attacking players usually garner the cheers, it is usually the pass that leads to the kill which the key to scoring the point. Among these unsung heroes, 35 setters
return this season after playing in at least 30 sets as a freshman.
Ranking in the top three in the land last season with 9.23 assists per set, Anna Buckley provided the attacking line for Fashion IT (N.Y.) with an abundance of scoring opportunities. Buckley led
the Tigers to a 36-5 record and the Region 15 championship last season before finishing
seventh at the national championship. Few teams this season will be able to match Fashion IT’s passing weapon on the court.
Another one of the nation’s top setters from last season will be back at Monroe CC (N.Y.) in 2014. Jessica Jenkins (right) ranked sixth in the country in passing last season, recording 9.13 assists per game. Jenkins and the Tribunes went 22-14 last season but have higher expectations in
2014 after failing to reach the national tournament.
Three other DIII setters come back after averaging at least eight assists per game last season, including – Anniella Cswaykus from Niagara County (N.Y.), Kimberly Findley from Harrisburg
Area (Pa.) and Emily Kessler of Itasca (Minn.).
Click here for complete list of top returning Setters.
LIBEROS & DEFENSIVE SPECIALISTS
They might not post a lot of point during a match but few players on the court are as vital to their team’s success as liberos and defensive specialists. With at least 30 sets under their belt, 15 liberos and 18 defensive specialists will be back in the DIII ranks.
Despite the NJCAA DIII Volleyball National Championship being played in their own backyard, Rochester (Minn.) hasn’t qualified for the tournament since 2000. The Yellowjackets are looking
to end that drought in 2014 with the return of Haley Lenz. The libero played in 95 sets as a freshman and ranked sixth in DIII with 5.75 digs per set.
Another top 10 back row player from last season returns in Lexi Tucker. The Cayuga (N.Y.) libero/defensive specialist averaged 5.54 digs per set in 2013, ranking eighth in the land. The Spartans struggled however – going 7-24 on the year – and will need to provide Tucker with
some offensive support in order to make strides in 2014.
Other top returners of note include Ulster County (N.Y.) libero Samantha Shultis, Nassau (N.Y.) libero/defensive specialist Kim Cosentino and Joliet libero Bianca Jiminez (right).
Click here for complete list of top returning Liberos & Defensive Specialists.
Photos courtesy of Joliet Athletics, SUNY Delhi Athletics and Monroe CC Athletics.