Sometimes, I'm not sure what to make of Volleyball's prospects this year. On one hand, you can't overstate how much needs to be replaced at outside hitter. On the other, most other rols are returning their main faces from 2014. Cassie Shado, Akeila Lain, and Amber Hatchett are back. Niki Bozinoski is back. Megan Lin and Marissa Prinzbach are back.
And while all players - or rather, all spots in the rotation - are expected to serve the ball to start a point, and it's not necessarily a specific position unit, UB's returning all of the best ones from 2014. Last season, eight different Bulls recorded at least one ace, and all five who had more than 15 are back in 2015.
As a team, UB was middle of the road in the MAC in total aces on the whole season, and in the lower third in conference play alone. That maybe doesn't tell the whole story: a serve may not go for an ace but still be tough to receive such that the opposing team can't turn it into a high-quality attack.
Looking ahead, while that middle of the road/lower third split is pretty typical when looking at any facet of UB's game in 2014, returning the squads five top servers is basically begging for improvement. Furthermore, while the specifics of the lineup are subject to change with a new coach in town, all five of this group saw plenty of playing time in 2014 and constitute the entirety of UB's collegiate experience among back line players.
There are some experienced servers among the freshman class as well. Defensive specialist/libero Abby Beecher, who was named NYS Class AA First Team All-State as a senior, finished her career with 161 aces at Penfield; WNY native Madison Clark notched 143 aces aver three years at Starpoint, and presumably more in her two years at Williamsville South; and Valisha Watkins holds her high school's single-season record in the category.
Service wasn't necessarily a weak point - at least, no weaker than anything else - for UB last year, but between the returning production at the "position" and the further skill that comes along with a back line-heavy recruiting class, Buffalo seems poised for a step forward in this aspect.