Setting the Table: Jay Beaulieu took over the reins of the UMPI women's volleyball program in 2010. The team finished with a 4-14 record, 3rd place in the Sunrise Conference regular season. The Owls took 2nd place in the Sunrise Conference tournament. Junior Karen Creighton and senior Megan Korhonen were named to the Sunrise All-Conference Team.
In Case you Missed it: Roster turnover and an "independent" schedule have made the 2011 an uphill battle for this year's women's volleyball team. Only Karen Creighton (Sr./Sussex, NB) andShaina Hood (So./Princeton, ME) return from last year's squad and the team only has 2 home meets on the slate. The unfortunate result has been a 1-13 record as of the end of September.
Coach Beaulieu on the challenges of having a very young team: "It's a learning process ESPECIALLY with girls who come from programs that (in high school) are a month long. First thing first, is just getting them used to being in a (NCAA) Division III sport: coming in to practice every day, being in shape. Just recently in the past few weeks have we developed where I want us to be."
Impact Players:Hood and Creighton have worked to improve their games while taking on leadership roles on a team that, besides them, is comprised entirely of first year players. The tandem leads the team in digs with 89 and 75 respectively. Randi Kaplan (Fr./Embden, ME) joined the team this year with virtually no volleyball background and has been charged with learning the role of 'setter' on the squad. Despite some expected growing pains, Kaplan has continued to progress, leading the team with 89 assists.
Coach Beaulieu on the biggest difference between this year and last: "Obviously the big difference is having a new setter (Kaplan). Not a lot of people realize that the setter is like the quarterback. For someone that doesn't come from a volleyball background, it's tough to get that chemistry going. Fortunately Shaina has become a consistent outside hitter where she can pretty much hit wherever the set is. That makes the setter happy and makes them someone to rely on."
On the Horizon: The record may not be where the Owls would like but there is no denying that there has been improvement in recent weeks. UMPI went their first eight matches without taking as much as a game. Two weeks ago, they earned their first match victory over Unity College and pushed two other matches into 5th sets. However if they are to continue to progress they will need to become "road warriors" as they will play away from Wieden Hall for the remainder of the season.
Coach Beaulieu on goals for the remainder of the season: "I think what they (the team) were worried about the most was being able to understand the positions and being able to switch and really understand what it's all about. I think at this point they have accomplished that goal. Now it's 'ok how can I take my position and improve on it?'"