2011 Volleyball Season Preview; Garnet Picked Third in Centennial Preseason Poll

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

In the past two seasons, the Swarthmore College volleyball team erupted from six wins in 2008 to 20 in 2010, climbing to the top of the Centennial Conference on the backs of a trio of the 2012 class.

The Garnet shocked the Conference again with a come-from-behind upset of four-time defending champion Haverford in the Centennial semifinals. Still riding a wave of momentum from their first ever berth in the Centennial finals and returning every player except Sarah Lambert ’11, Swarthmore will look to bring a championship trophy to Tarble Pavilion in 2011.

The core puts the Garnet in a strong position to compete at the top of the Centennial Conference once again.

The returning all-Conference performers are First-Team selection Genny Pezzola ’12 – her 1,036 career kills is just 135 shy of the program record – and second-team honorees Hillary Santana ’12 and Kat Montemurro ’13.  Santana recorded 388 digs in a breakout junior season while Montemurro led the squad with 332 kills.  The duo of Montemurro (332) and Pezzola (328) combined for 660 kills last year and will once again lead the Garnet’s explosive attack, which ranked second in the Conference in hitting percentage and third in kills at 12.19 per game.

Junior setter Allie Coleman, whose 1475 career assists are already the third most in program history, forms a trio that is one of the strongest attacks in the Centennial Conference.

The team held opponents to the lowest hitting percentage in the Conference (.127). Santana and fellow defensive-specialist Lisa Shang ’12 combined for 664 digs last season. Add in Pezzola’s 338 digs and freshman Danielle Sullivan 276, and the Garnet amassed the second-most digs in the Conference last year.

Home team play begins with the annual Garnet Classic on Sept. 9-10 and the Garnet’s non-conference schedule is highlighted by a trip to Salisbury on Sept. 17 for the Capital-Centennial Challenge.

Continuing the tradition of digging into the community during the season, the Garnet will feature the Oct. 15 conference match with McDaniel as their annual “Dig for a Cure” match.  Over the last five years, the Centennial Conference volleyball teams have raised over $40,000 for breast cancer support and research.  This year’s campaign will shift focus to pediatric cancer research, partnering with Tanner’s Touch based out of Carroll County, MD.

Head coach Harleigh Chwastyk begins her 10th season at the College. The two-year reigning Centennial Coach of the Year has an experienced and talented squad with five newcomers from four states and Washington, D.C. This summer, Chwastyk’s squad received the Academic Team Award from the American Volleyball Coaches Association with for the fifth time in her tenure.

A must-see match in Tarble Pavillion will be on Sept. 28 when the Garnet host defending Centennial champion Franklin & Marshall. Senior Day will be Saturday, Oct. 22 as part of a home quad match on Garnet Weekend, while the regular season concludes at rival Haverford on Oct. 29.

2011 Centennial Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll

1. Franklin & Marshall (6)….93
2. Johns Hopkins (4)……….90
3. Swarthmore (1)………….79
4. Haverford………………74
5. Gettysburg……………..72
6. Bryn Mawr………………54
7. Muhlenberg……………..36
8. Dickinson………………33
9. Washington College………31
10. Ursinus……………….22
11. McDaniel………………21

Reprinted from August 26th with permission from the Swarthmore Athletics website, here

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