Defending League Champion Panthers Open Preseason Practice
Aug. 8, 2012
MILWAUKEE - The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's volleyball team has opened practice in preparation for the 2012 season.
The Panthers took the court at the UWM Pavilion this morning, beginning their quest for another league title and NCAA Tournament berth.
In all, the Panthers return seven letterwinners and four starters for head coach Susie Johnson, who has been named the Horizon League Coach of the Year four times in her first five seasons in charge of the program.
"It is exciting," Johnson said about the start of another season. "The team has been working really hard this summer and we're ready to get a lot accomplished over the next few weeks of the preseason."
While the Panthers will be looking to replace six seniors, UWM returns a number of key performers from last year's squad. Honorable mention All-American middle blocker Rachel Neuberger tops the list of returnees, while setter and Midwest Region Freshman of the Year Kayla Price also returns to direct the offense. Horizon League Tournament Most Valuable Player Elizabeth Egerer heads the group returning on the outside, while Anna Bartz and Taylor Golabowski are both back to lead in the back row.
Milwaukee will also work in a talented group of newcomers over the next few weeks.
"We'll work on getting the new players comfortable with how the offense and defense runs and growing our team chemistry," Johnson said. "A lot of our players have been playing this summer but they haven't all been playing together so it will be nice to get them all playing together again. It's nice because we do have a lot of returners back in key positions and then we're going to be able to fill all of the spots in and see where we're at from there."
When league play begins in September, the Panthers will put a 25-match league winning streak on the line. The Panthers have won 39 of their last 40 regular season league matches and 17-straight league matches away from home.
First, though, Milwaukee will face a difficult non-league schedule. The Panthers open their regular season in a little over two weeks, heading to Durham, NC, for the Duke Invitational. The event opens Fri. Aug. 24 with UWM facing Fairfield. Milwaukee then takes on William and Mary and the host Blue Devils the next day.