WATERVILLE, Maine -- Six first-year players and the return of kills leader Paige Hanssen (Earlysville, Va.) and digs leader Erin Maidman (Ventura, Calif.) will be key components when the Colby College volleyball team opens the 2017 season Wednesday.
The Mules have their home opener against Maine Maritime Academy at 7 p.m. in Wadsworth Gymnasium.
"With Paige and Erin returning and some talented newcomers, we are very excited to get the season started Wednesday," Colby head coach Candice Parent said. “The team already seems to have a consistent level of play with the maturity of our setters and with some of the younger players arriving for the season in outstanding shape."
Hanssen is a junior captain along with senior setter Emily Moslener (Leonardtown, Md.) and senior outside hitter Kate Wincek (Omaha, Neb.).
Hanssen was tied for fifth in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) in total service aces (38), seventh in total kills (270), tied for seventh in sets played (101), and was ninth in kills per set (2.37). She led the Mules in kills and aces, was second in defensive digs (241), and fourth in blocks (31).
Moslener shared time at setter last year and finished with 276 assists, 126 digs, and 24 aces. She has 1,310 career assists heading into her senior season.
Wincek has battled injury problems during her career, missing her entire sophomore season. She also had nagging injuries last year and missed time. Wincek finished with 179 digs, 31 kills, and 17 aces.
Maidman a force at libero
The Mules were hurt last year when defensive specialist Maidman played in only 62 sets due to injury. The junior had 294 digs as a first-year and still had 275 digs last year despite missing 11 matches.
Maidman, despite the missed time, was 13th in the NESCAC in total digs and added 17 aces.
The other Mule returners
Sophomore 6-foot-1 middle blocker Nicole Petherbridge (Tewksbury, Mass.) will need to play a key role at the net for the Mules after losing Karolina Serhan (70 blocks) and Alexa Busser (63 blocks) to graduation. Petherbridge had 68 kills, 44 blocks, and 41 digs last year.
Junior setter Molly Manuel (Andover, Mass.) and sophomore setter/defensive specialist Mae Sefransky (Mystic, Conn.) were major contributors last season. Manuel led the Mules in assists (402) while adding 94 digs and 12 blocks. Sefransky added 163 assists, 113 digs, and 31 aces.
Seniors Kacie Wrean (Weston, Mass.), Eliza Liebler (Brooklyn, N.Y.), and junior Katie Devine (Charlottesville, Va.) also return for Colby. Wrean saw time in 54 sets and had 19 kills, 30 digs, and nine blocks. Liebler is a defensive specialist, while Devine missed most of last season due to injury.
Simone Sears (Hebron, Conn.) and Elizabeth Middlebrook (Ridgefield, Conn.) will give the Mules size on the front line. Sears is a 6-0 middle blocker, while Middlebrook is a 5-10 outside hitter.
Kathryn Christianson (Gorham, Maine) and Delaney Wood (Centerville, Mass.) give the Mules depth as defensive specialists. Elise Crutchlow (Mendham, N.J.) can play middle blocker or right side hitter, while Claire Wilson (San Francisco, Calif.) also will see time as a right side hitter.