Aug. 22, 2012
Duke Invitational Durham, NC
Fri. Aug. 24-Sat. Aug. 25
Cameron Indoor Stadium
Fri. Aug. 24 4 p.m. CST vs. Fairfield
Stags picked to win MAAC
Sat. Aug. 25 11 a.m. CST vs. William & Mary
W&M returns 11 letterwinners from last season
Sat. Aug. 25 6 p.m. CST @ Duke
Blue Devils played in NCAA Tourney last year
Weekly Notebook - Week 1
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's volleyball team opens its 2012 season with three matches at the Duke Invitational.
Milwaukee returns four starters and seven letterwinners from last year's team, which won both the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers will be a young team, featuring a roster with 10 freshmen and sophomores.
The Panthers have been picked to win the Horizon League championship again this year. UWM is looking for its third-straight regular season crown and its ninth in the last 10 years.
Milwaukee also starts the year seeking its second-straight NCAA Tournament berth and the 10th in program history.
Three Panthers earned a spot on the seven-person preseason all-league squad. Honorable mention All-American Rachel Neuberger was joined by reigning Horizon League Tournament MVP Elizabeth Egerer and Midwest Region Freshman of the Year Kayla Price.
The Week Ahead
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee women's volleyball team opens the 2012 season by playing three matches at the Duke Invitational this Friday and Saturday.
Duke made the NCAA Tournament last season and was picked to finish fourth in the ACC ... Fairfield has been picked to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference ... this weekend will mark the first-ever meetings between UWM and Duke or Fairfield. The Panthers did play William & Mary at the Billiken Invitational in 2003 ... Milwaukee last played a current member of the ACC in 2007, beating Virginia Tech ... Milwaukee is 2-3 in season openers under Susie Johnson
, with wins over Saint Louis and San Jose State to start the last two seasons ... the Panthers claimed one in-season tournament title a year ago, winning the Drake Invitational. It was their first in-season tourney title since 2008 .... UWM has a total of four in-season tourney titles under Jonnson.
A Summary Of The Squad
UWM returns four starters and seven letterwinners while adding a talented group of newcomers in 2012. Honorable mention All-American Rachel Neuberger heads the list of returnees. She was also an All-Horizon League performer last season after being named the region freshman of the year in 2010. Elizabeth Egerer also returns for Milwaukee. The senior-to-be was an All-Horizon League performer last season before claiming league tournament most valuable player honors. Setter Kayla Price is also back. The sophomore was the AVCA Midwest Region Freshman of the Year and Horizon League Newcomer of the Year.
Seniors Leading A Young Squad
Elizabeth Egerer and Anna Bartz make up this year's two-person senior class, small compared to the six-person group the Panthers boasted a season ago. The duo actually tops a very young roster that has just one junior, meaning 10 of this year's 13 Panthers are freshmen or sophomores. Egerer and Bartz have combined to appear in 131 matches so far in Panther uniforms, with Egerer here the last two seasons after transferring from Michigan State while Bartz has spent the last three seasons in Milwaukee.
Still Plenty Of Experience
Even though UWM will be fielding a young roster in 2012, it starts the season with a good bit of experience. The lone junior on the roster, Rachel Neuberger, has been a starter since her freshman year. Sophomore setter Kayla Price started all of last season. Plus, sophomore Julie Kolinske was a starter by the end of last year and, thanks to a redshirt, is starting her third season in Milwaukee.
UWM has been picked to repeat as Horizon League champions in a preseason poll of the league's coaches. The Panthers claimed seven first-place votes and 49 points in beating out Cleveland State for the top spot. The expectations are nothing new for Milwaukee, which will be seeking its third-straight regular season league crown and its ninth in the last 10 seasons.
And The New League Honors
Three Panthers who earned recognition from the Horizon League following last season are on this year's preseason all-league team. Senior Elizabeth Egerer, junior Rachel Neuberger and sophomore Kayla Price were all named to the seven-person squad. Neuberger was an all-league performer and honorable mention All-American following last season, when she led the league in hitting percentage and total blocks. Egerer was the league tournament MVP in leading Milwaukee to the title. She finished fourth in the league in kills a season ago, hitting double digits in the category 19 times. Price was the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and Midwest Region Freshman of the Year a season ago, topping the league charts in assists per set. Of the seven players on the preseason all-league squad, Milwaukee is the only school with non-seniors on the list.
Looking At The League
The look of the Horizon League may be a little different in 2012 but it should be no less competitive. Butler has departed for the Atlantic 10, leaving eight league schools playing volleyball. But three of those eight, including Milwaukee, won at least 20 matches a season ago. And, while UWM did land three players on the preseason all-league team, it had neither the preseason offensive or defensive players of the year. Plus, the three schools that were at the bottom of the standings last year either have new coaches or coaches that are in just their second season.
As always, UWM will face plenty of tests during its 2012 season. The Panthers will face five NCAA Tournament squads and teams from the Big Ten, Big East and ACC. In all, the Panthers will play 10 matches against teams that won 20 or more contests a season ago. UWM faces crosstown-rival Marquette twice and also renews its series with Wisconsin.
Rachel Neuberger was named to the Capital One Academic All-District volleyball team and the league's all-academic squad. The sophomore has a 3.86 grade-point average and is a regular on the UWM Dean's List and Horizon League Honor Roll. This marks the seventh time in the last nine years a UWM player has earned academic all-region honors.
2011 Year In Review
The Milwaukee women's volleyball team posted yet another successful season in 2011, winning 25 matches and the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles. UWM then made its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, falling at Iowa State in the first round. The regular season championship was the 12th for Milwaukee, which has now won either the regular season or tournament title for 15-straight years. UWM has also won eight of the last nine league regular season crowns and has won four regular season titles in five seasons under Susie Johnson.
Winning ... Winning ... Winning
The 2011 season added to an incredible legacy of success for Panther volleyball. UWM finished with 25 wins, marking the 14th 20-win season in the last 16 years. In league play, Milwaukee has won at least 10 league matches for 15-straight seasons and, in addition to this year's unbeaten run, has gone through the league slate with just one loss eight times. In fact, since the league expanded to a 16-match schedule in 2007, UWM has had a 16-win season, a pair of 15-win seasons and two seasons of 13 wins. UWM is 187-25 in league matches over the last 15 seasons. This marked the first time since 1994 a team went through the league season unbeaten. Now, the Panthers begin the 2012 season having won 25-straight and 39 of its last 40 regular season league contests. Milwaukee has won 17-straight league road matches.
D ... D ... D ... Defense
Defense has traditionally been a big key for Milwaukee and it should be again in 2012. Senior Anna Bartz and sophomore Taylor Golabowski are both back to lead the efforts in the back row, while Rachel Neuberger led the league in blocks a season ago. During last season, UWM reached double figures in blocks 13 times and held an opponent under a .150 hitting percentage 18 times. UWM finished with three of the top five in the league in the blocks chart, while Panther players claimed league defensive player of the week honors three times.