Volleyball 2008: Taking risks part of winning strategy

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August 29, 2008

1:19 PM

This past January, Melissa Shelton ’91 took over as the College of William and Mary’s head coach, following in the footsteps of her former coach, Debbie Hill.

“I’m excited the job’s been kept in the family,” Shelton said in an interview with The Flat Hat in February. “I get to build on everything Deb has established, not change it.”

She brings experience as a player and a coach to a mature Tribe squad, which returns all six of its starters from last season.
Shelton, who led the University of Virginia to a 235-179 record during her 13-year coaching tenure, wants to use a more aggressive offensive strategy this season.

Her style will have the Tribe taking more risks, aiming for tight spots on the court, and looking for kills. In years past, the College has relied on steady defense.

“It’s really about working on our offense and picking up our numbers there so we can get the 25 points we need to win faster than anyone else,” Shelton said.

League coaches picked the College to take third this season in the 12-team CAA — a place higher than the Tribe’s 2007 fourth-place finish. The College finished 14-15 (8-6) last year when it lost in the quarterfinals of the CAA Tournament.

Preseason All-CAA selection Kim Mount, a senior setter, leads the experienced Tribe squad. She averaged 11.72 assists per game last season and will be responsible for distributing the ball to a deep group of Tribe hitters including outside hitters junior Lauren Powell and sophomore Erin Skipper.

Powell and Skipper contributed over one-third of the Tribe’s kills in 2007 with Skipper recording a team-high 326 kills. Senior Molly Bohman, sophomore Ginny Bray and junior Jillian Brown give the College more offensive options.

Bray had an impressive rookie season as middle blocker last year, earning a spot on the CAA All-Rookie Team and averaging 1.17 blocks per game.

“We are really working on our chemistry and making sure the setters and hitters connect, but with so many players back for another year we are really looking sharp heading into the season,” Bray said.

The College opens its season this weekend, hosting the Tribe Invitational — a five-team round-robin tournament.

“Consistency will be the key to success in this tournament,” Skipper said. “As long as we play our game, we can beat anyone.”
The University of South Dakota, the University of Maryland—Baltimore County, Eastern Michigan University and Appalachian State University round out the field.

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