Bearcat Volleyball Players are Ready for First Practice of Season

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- After finishing strong at the end of last year, members of the Willamette University volleyball team are excited to start the 2010 season. They will get to do just that on Friday, Aug. 20, when they hold their first practice session.

Head Coach Tom Shoji begins his third season at Willamette. He will lead 11 returning players and eight newcomers as the team starts preparing for its season opener in roughly two weeks.

Last year, the Bearcats won six their last eight Northwest Conference matches to end the year 8-8 (5th place) in the NWC. Willamette concluded the year at 11-13 overall.

Leading the list of returning players is senior outside hitter Molly Blankenship (Spokane, WA/Spokane Falls CC), who earned Honorable Mention All-NWC recognition in 2009. Blankenship accumulated 236 kills last season, while ranking seventh in the NWC with 2.95 kills per set. She also provided WU with 2.25 digs per set and averaged 0.47 blocks and 0.31 service aces.

Jaci Abeloe (So., OH, Medford, OR/North Medford HS) earned 129 kills last year, while Josephine Johnston (So., MH, Florence, MT/Florence-Carlton HS) achieved a .281 hitting percentage and Madisyn Leenstra (So., OH, Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) hit .272. Kathy Lee Glenn (So., LIB, Murrieta, CA/Vista Murrieta HS) recorded 235 digs and Brigit Miller (So., S, Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) supplied 865 assists.

The Bearcats will open the regular season by taking on nearby rival Western Oregon University on Thursday, Sept. 2 in Monmouth, Ore. Game time at WOU is set for 7 p.m. (PDT).

WU's first home match is slated for Friday, Sept. 17 against NWC rival Linfield College. The match will be held at Cone Field House at 7 p.m. (PDT).

Madisyn Leenstra earned a .272 hitting percentage last season and ranked second on the team with 42 total blocks.

Madisyn Leenstra earned a .272 hitting percentage last season and ranked second on the team with 42 total blocks.