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Penn College Coach Expects Strong Women’s Volleyball Team

Although Pennsylvania College of Technology women’s volleyball coach Bambi Hawkins views her team as “young” in terms of collegiate experience, she hopes to field one of her stronger teams in recent years.

The Wildcats are scheduled to begin their season Friday night in a tournament at Penn State Beaver. Tournament play concludes Saturday.

“Our freshman class has stepped onto the court with enough volleyball experience to not only challenge the returning players, but also to support them with an increased ability to communicate in volleyball terms,” said Hawkins, who is entering her 10th season.

“This is one of the stronger teams that Penn College has had and I am looking forward to seeing how they mesh at the Penn State Beaver Tournament this weekend. With 14 young ladies on the roster (at least 10 who could step into a starting role), we will have some fun in the first weeks figuring out who is going to fight hardest for the playing time that is available,” Hawkins continued.

Penn College is coming off a 13-10 season during which it reached the Penn State University Athletic Conference playoffs for the fifth straight year, but lost in the first round following three consecutive second-place finishes and winning a championship in 2004. Hawkins owns a 109-72 career record and over the past six seasons her teams have gone 94-38.

Expected starters for the Wildcats will be Lyndsey Smith (sophomore/Mechanicsburg) at setter, Alyssa Covas (senior/Pottsville) and Karlee Shubert (junior/Hanover) as middle hitters, Tara Powell (freshman/Burgettstown) at outside hitter and Ashley Matson (freshman/Troy) at rightside hitter. Either Sasha Deimler (junior/Middletown) or Kara Matson (freshman/Troy) will be the defensive specialist and vying for the other outside hitter position are Ashley Oswald (junior/Altoona), Kara Matson, Kate Todorich (sophomore/Mountain Top) and Jennifer DeLosa (senior/Bellefonte).

“Primarily (we have) a young squad. Although there are four players who are considered seniors at Penn College, there is only one who is a true senior as far as playing on the volleyball team Covas,” Hawkins said. “There are only two other young ladies who would be considered juniors related to this being their third year on the team — DeLosa and Shubert,” she added.

“I anticipate this will be a team that learns quickly, and we will be able to capitalize on the high school volleyball experience that many of them have brought with them to Penn College (freshmen as well as returning players). Additionally, the week of preseason has provided an opportunity to get our team beyond the level at which we finished last season. We have a team that should be able to move into more advanced level play than teams in past years,” the coach assessed.

“Lyndsey Smith and Alyssa Covas are likely to be team leaders for this year’s team. Lyndsey has made sure to push herself during the off-season in anticipation of being the starting setter and the inherent demands of that position. Alyssa has an intensity that is consistent with her drive to win a championship in her senior year. Karlee Shubert also is anticipated to be a quiet, but dominating force as a middle hitter-blocker,” Hawkins said.

Also on the squad are Kelsey Brown (freshman/Derry), Alexandra Davis (junior/Smethport) and Alison Imbrogno (freshman/Ridgway). “This team has some great potential for a powerful attack. The average height is greater than in past years, and the number of young ladies with hitting ability is also increased,” the coach said.

“We will be working to ensure that our back row is able to provide passing that facilitates great setting and allows for us to capitalize on the potential hitting of this team,” she continued.

According to Hawkins, the key to the team’s success will be, “Communication, communication, communication” and her hopes are big, “We are looking to go to the PSUAC final four, and we have a team with potential to move on to the (United States Collegiate Athletic Association) national championship.

“These ladies are willing to work and have natural volleyball ability as well as high school experience that has not been seen in this abundance before at Penn College. Our coaching staff (Hawkins is assisted by Amber Dreese) will have the biggest challenge in knowing when and how to move these ladies through each of the next levels of play.

“Coach Dreese and I are both excited to have two team managers who will be helping to get the team prepared for matches. Liz Rubritz and Annie Stiles are not ordinary managers, they are also young ladies with college volleyball experience, passion for the sport and ability to challenge the ladies who are on the Wildcat roster for this season,” Hawkins concluded.

(Complete rosters and season schedules are available on the college’s Athletics Web site). More informationabout the PSUAC is available online; for more informationabout the USCAA, visit on the Web.)

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