Strength & Determination Define Volleyball Season

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – This season, the Franciscan University Lady Baron volleyball team became the first team to represent FUS in postseason Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference play. Despite falling to Penn State Behrend in the first round of the AMCC tournament, the Lady Barons enjoyed a successful season led by three players earning all-conference honors.

Junior Anna Cain was the only Lady Baron elected to First Team All-Conference, making the jump after earning third team last season. She led the AMCC in hitting percentage at .380 percent and was second in the conference in kills at 4.14 per set.

Lady Baron head coach Kelly Herrmann noted how Cain's sense of intensity, focus and overall joy makes her a great teammate and team leader.

"Her strength in that position was definitely a key to our season," she said. "It's a great combination when you have somebody who does well in hitting percentage and kills per set, and the fact that Anna led the conference in hitting percentage and second in kills per set is just a tremendous accomplishment."

Earning Second Team All-Conference honors for the Lady Barons were senior Nicole Henson and junior Meg Kay. This is Kay's second straight year being honored by the AMCC; she was named to the first team last season.

"I was so happy to see Nicole chosen for second team," Herrmann said. "She's a very gifted libero in which pain means nothing to her – she just gets to the ball and makes crazy play after crazy play. She will be difficult to replace."

Herrmann added that her junior captain, Kay, would be the first to admit disappointment with her due to an injury suffered partway through the season. However, this never seemed to affect her attitude.

"She never complained. She is a total team player, willing to do whatever I ask her to do, and she is such a fierce competitor. She'll be a huge piece of the puzzle next year. I think she'll bounce back – no one will work harder than her. I know by her standards she would have liked to have done better, and she will next year."

Herrmann also noted the play of graduating senior Alyssa Wappes.

"This year, at outside hitter, she was our best passer, always solid, always dependable, and always positive; she'll be missed and her position will be one of the key positions we have to fill next season."

In Coach Herrmann's eyes, very important players this season were freshman setter Amy O'Keefe and fellow freshman Jackie Zucco.

"Amy was definitely a strength to our team at the setter position, and without a doubt one of the big reasons Meg [Kay] and Anna [Cain] had the years they had," she said. "Jackie Zucco showed tremendous improvement from the beginning of the year to the end, as she got used to the NCAA collegiate level of play and developed confidence to play in such a prominent middle hitter position."

Herrmann added that because Zucco is an undersized middle hitter by typical college volleyball standards, she had to work harder to play the position. Zucco didn't disappoint.

The team was disappointed with its fifth place finish in the AMCC standings, falling short of its third place goal, but Herrmann holds on to bright hopes for the future. The Lady Barons finished 12-13 overall and 5-4 in the AMCC.

"We've got to play at a higher level earlier in the season to reach our goal so when we step into that first conference match we're ready to go," she said. "If we get the recruiting class that we think we're going to get, I think we'll contend for the championship."

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