Junior Cassie Benson (left) and senior Katherine Tohanczyn are the 2011 volleyball captains for Chestnut Hill College. (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

Having no seniors on the 2010 roster will pay benefits for the volleyball team at Chestnut Hill College, which returns intact this fall with one more year of experience.

“A dozen of the 14 girls on the team are returning players,” observed head coach Kim Feeny. “I’ve been with these current seniors since their freshman year, so that helps.”

There are still only three members of the Class of 2012 on the roster, right side hitter Katherine Tohanczyn, defensive specialist Alyssa Miller, and right side Megan Nadler. Tohanczyn is a co-captain for the Griffins this season, along with junior Cassie Benson, a 6’1” middle hitter.

Benson’s classmates on the team include libero Liz DiGregorio and setter Courtney Gallo, both everyday players in the past. Defensive specialist Crystal Mann is a transfer from Cheyney University, and a fifth junior, defensive specialist Bobbie Chukuntarod, suffered non-sports-related injuries late in the summer and will not play this season.

The sophomore contingent includes outside hitter/defender Alex DePalma, who was already an impact player as a freshman last fall. The other second-year Griffins are all outside or middle hitters; Kailey Arlen, Ali Eberly, Mary Markowski, and Sarah Mattaliano.

There will still be a Chukuntarod in the line-up as Bobbie’s sister Sidney (a defensive specialist) has entered CHC as a freshman. The other rookie is six-foot right/middle hitter Katie Schock, a product of the strong PIAA program at Allentown Central Catholic High School.

Assessing the squad, Coach Feeny commented, “We need to focus on ball control and making smart decisions. We have physical talent, but we also need to have that solid mental effort out there.”

Lapses in this latter aspect of the game contributed to Chestnut Hill’s 5-24 record last fall, and Feeny feels that the team in not that far away from being able to put up significantly better numbers.

“Against the top teams in our conference we went to four or five [games in a best-of five match] a couple of times last year,” she pointed out. “We just didn’t get over the hump, and I think increased maturity could help us to do that.”

In CHC’s own Southern Division of the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference, the Griffins’ mentor sees Holy Family, Philadelphia University, and Wilmington University as the top contenders.

“The goal for us is to earn that fourth spot and get into the playoffs,” she said. “We think we can do that because we can compete with Goldey Beacom, University of the Sciences, and Georgian Court in our division.”


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