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Volleyball season preview: Scoping out the starters, depth chart

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UB Athletics

Over the course of the last month and a half, we've previewed each member of the Volleyball team individually. Earlier today, we published our 10,000-foot-view season preview.

In between the forest and the trees, though, is the question not of the whole season nor any individual player, but what does the team look like when it steps on the court against Penn State?

In his FanPost earlier today, Paige Miller took a crack at a starting lineup and depth chart. Let's start with that and go from there:

Players I think will have a spot in the regular rotation are shown in italics (ed note: now bold), while substitutes are not italicized, and subs appear in the order that I think they'll get playing time at that position.

Setter: Prinzbach, Clark, Lin, Kirkpatrick

Right side: Lain, Clark, Wernette, Watkins

Middle blocker: Hatchett, Shado, Wernette, Clark

Outside hitter: Lipski, Watkins, Jordan, Clark

Libero: Bozinoski, Beecher, Ooyama

Defensive Specialist: Beecher, Bozinoski, Ooyama, Lin

Serving Specialist: Ooyama, Lin

When I'm not following Paige's knowledgeable lead on volleyball, I'm usually in agreement with him anyway. In this I have a few slightly different predictions, but essentially the same starters. First though, the guiding questions as I see them:

(Remember that preseason practice has only just started, and we have no insight into Coach Lipsitz' style or preferences)

  • Who are the attacking options behind Megan Lipski?
  • What's the most efficient way to maximize the three-headed trio of Amber Hatchett, Akeila Lain, and Cassie Shado up front?
  • What's going on with the setters? Just one, or two in Lipsitz' system?
  • How much space is there for freshmen in blocking, setting, and the backline, and how much can any of them take advantage? Will they receive any preference as Coach Lipsitz' recruits?

When it comes to the starting six on the floor in just under three weeks, I agree with Paige: Bozinoski, Prinzbach, Hatchett, Lain, and Lipski all starting once again, but with Lain moved to the right side hitter to accommodate Cassie Shado in the middle. As much as the team has lost in attack, there's returning starters at multiple positions and not too much debate.

The subs are where the possibilities get interesting. While I love the idea that Clark is versatile enough to play different positions based on her spot in the rotation, I'll hold off on matching Paige's prediction. I do think the local star claims the second setter role, though. Among the rest of the freshmen, Abby Beecher and Megan Wernette each could earn time despite the returning depth at their positions, while one of Valisha Watkins or Raven Jordan will capitalize on the thin depth behind Lipski. Megan Lin and Tessa Ooyama proved too useful in serving last season to not see some time in at least that role this year.

In the same style as Paige, but limited to names that I think are likely to see the floor, rather than everyone who might play the position:

Setters: Marissa Prinzbach*, Clark
Right Side: Akeila Lain*, Wernette, Watkins
Middle Blocker: Amber Hatchett*, Cassie Shado*, Wernette
Outside Hitter: Megan Lipski*, Watkins, Jordan
Libero: Niki Bozinoski*, Abby Beecher

Defensive Specialist: Beecher, Ooyama, Lin
Serving Specialist: Lin, Ooyama

***

Volleyball starts their season Friday, 28 August with a road match at national power Penn State.