Willamette Volleyball Set to Begin 2009 Season

By Sara Brooks, Assistant Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6219

SALEM, ORE. --- The Willamette University volleyball team enters the 2009 season with just four returning players. Head coach Tom Shoji hopes that the combination of these returning athletes and eleven newcomers will be what Willamette needs to take the program to the next level.

Leading the way for the Bearcats are seniors Jessica McGraw (OH, Gaston, OR/Corban College) and Julie Stutzman (MH, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS). McGraw was an Honorable Mention All-NWC selection in 2008. She has accumulated 506 kills and 506 digs during her Willamette career. Stutzman returns to the Bearcats after missing the 2008 season while she studied abroad in Austria.

Kellie Menghini (So., Libero, Anchorage, AK/South Anchorage HS) and Annika Moffett (So., Opp., Portland OR/Lincoln HS) are the other two returning players for the young Bearcats. Menghini saw action in 33 games as a freshman in 2008. Moffett recorded 89 kills last season and will play opposite for the Bearcats this season.

The Bearcats' roster is full of new faces. Junior transfer Molly Blankenship (OH, Spokane, WA) comes to Willamette following two seasons at Spokane Falls Community College. Ten freshmen from seven different states complete the list of newcomers.

Brigit Miller (Fr., Setter) and Nicole Mertens (Fr., OH) both come to WU from Olympia High School in Olympia, Wash. Madisyn Leenstra (Fr., OH, Sehome HS), from Bellingham, Wash., will be a middle hitter for the Bearcats.

Two freshmen, Jaclyn Abeloe (OH, Medford, OR) and Natalee Uhlich (OH, Yamhill, OR), join Willamette after playing high school volleyball at North Medford HS and Yamhill-Carlton Union HS, respectively.

Josephine Johnston (Fr., MH, Florence-Carlton HS) chose Willamette after growing up in Florence, Mont. At 6’1”, Johnston is one of three Bearcats who are more than six feet tall.

Rounding out the 2009 roster are Danica Reed (Fr., OH, Arvada, Colo./Ralston Valley HS), Chelsie Ann Mow (Fr., S/DS, Honolulu, HI/Hawaii Baptist Academy), Emily Michelsen (Fr., MH, Albuquerque, NM/La Cueva HS) and Kathy Lee Glenn (Fr., Libero, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS).

The Bearcats begin play at home on Tuesday, Sept. 1 against Northwest Christian University. Match time is set for 7 p.m. (PDT) at Cone Field House.

Senior Jessica McGraw led WU with 3.04 kills per game and 3.08 digs per game last season.

Senior Jessica McGraw led WU with 3.04 kills per game and 3.08 digs per game last season.