B Page -- Aug. 23, 2010

Gilmour Volleyball  

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“We are an experienced team that has a great defensive identity. We’re adding size with the incoming freshmen, several of which check in at or above 6-feet tall,” said Coughlin.

In addition to Link and Gallo, leadership will also come from Taylor Vala (SR, OH/OP) and Megan Kramer (SR, MH).

Coughlin also inherits a junior quintet in Maddie Kosar (JR, OH/OP/S), Maria Cup (JR, MH/OH), Megan Diemer (JR, OH), Alex Walters (JR, S/DS) and Carolyn Curran (JR, L/DS). With the depth in the experienced corps, the group effort is going to magnified in the 2010 edition of the Lancers.

“The team will be looking for more offensive tools this season,” Coughlin said. “In years past, the team relied more on a single player. Now we need to identify multiple players that can step up at the end of matches. The team knows we can win if we can take care of the little things and stay focused.”

Incoming Players expected to be in that mix of multiple players are Madeline Tuohey (FR), Samantha Baldini (FR), Nicole Brzozowski (FR) and Jessica Janota (FR, 6-2).

The Lancers have strengthened their schedule to prepare them for a run at states. “We’re also going to need a bit of luck along the way,” Coughlin said.

Gilmour has taken over the 8-team end of the year tournament (formerly at Stow). The other teams participating include Beaumont, Columbian, Fairview, Lake Catholic, Solon, West Geauga and Wooster. The tournament takes place on Saturday, Oct. 16.

“With it being my first year at Gilmour, the lineup may be different than in the past. Even seniors are working hard to get onto the court because nothing is set in stone,” said Coughlin.

Coughlin, who has been coaching volleyball for better than two decades, is assisted by Katie Duy (Vaughn), the varsity assistant who was an  assistant at Padua (part of 2009 state championship), Carla Raguz, another varsity assistant who is a former assistant at Hathaway Brown, and Rusty Opper, a third varsity assistant who is a former assistant at Trinity.

The 2009 JV Coach Cheri Grams returns, but Bob Peterlin (former assistant at Olmsted Falls) is the new freshmen coach.

NCAC Soccer Preview  

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During the 33-year tenure of head coach Jay Martin, Ohio Wesleyan holds an overall record of 566-111-47 (.814).  The Battling Bishops will return 19 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's squad which finished the season with an 18-2-2 record.  Ohio Wesleyan's offense will be bolstered by 2009 NCAC Offensive Player of the Year, senior Tyler Wall (Columbus, OH/Upper Arlington).  Wall, a forward, recorded nine goals and 11 assists for 1.32 points per game to lead the Bishop offense in 2009. He is also a three-time, first-team All-NCAC selection for the Bishops.  Senior defender Evan Laipple (Westerville, OH/South) will again be the anchor on OWU's defensive unit that limited opponents to just six goals last season.  Laipple and Wall were both named First-Team All-Americans last season by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.  

Founded in 1983, the North Coast Athletic Conference is made up of nine academically selective colleges and universities - Allegheny CollegeDenison UniversityHiram CollegeKenyon College, Oberlin College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Wabash CollegeWittenberg University and the College of Wooster, along with affiliate member, Earlham College (field hockey).  DePauw University will join the North Coast beginning with the 2011-12 academic year.  the NCAC sponsors 23 championship sports, 11 for men and 12 for women.

Case Reserve Volleyball  

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“We expect that Tricia will to continue to dominate the frontcourt and we will look to fully utilize her all-around athletic talent this season,” noted Farrell

McCutchan led the team with 443 kills and 116 total blocks and was named an ESPN The Magazine Academic All-American.

The Spartans also return two of their top attackers who each missed significant time in 2009. Outside hitter and senior co-captain Beth Karpinski (Avon Lake, OH/Avon Lake) had 414 digs and 245 kills in 2008 but missed all but one set in 2009 with a knee injury.  Junior outside hitter Rachael Suchy (Venetia, PA/Peters Township)totaled 285 kills and 30 blocks before missing the final eight matches of the season.

“Having Beth and Rachael back in our rotation will certainly energize our attack,” said Farrell.

Former Shoregal Allie Palmer

Farrell also expects to receive a significant impact in the attack and block from junior MH Ellie Lyman (Sawyer, MI/Bridgman) and sophomores Allie Palmer (Avon Lake, OH/Avon Lake) and Hanna Collins (Londonderry, NH/Londonderry).

Strongsville's Maggie Nofel, a team captain

The team also returns a strong core of defensive specialists in senior co-captain Maggie Nofel (Strongsville, OH/Strongsville) and sophomores Kara Monnin (Minster, OH/Minster)Olivia Stanton-Amiesen (Bryn Mawr, PA/The Baldwin School) and Alexandria Drake (Phoenix, AZ /Shadow Mountain).

Sophomore setter Breana Freeman (Geneva, OH/Geneva) is back to direct the offense after moving into a starting role midway through last season and totaling 193 assists. Classmate Rachel Gulasey (Cleveland, OH/Magnificat) also returns at the setter position and is a top defensive contributor.

Mags alumna Rachel Gulasey

“We are fortunate to have a lot of depth and versatility in our returnees and a solid class of newcomers that will enable us to maximize our attackers and blockers,” said Farrell.

The Spartans open the season at the aforementioned Pomona Pitzer Tournament on Friday and Saturday, September 3-4. Case hosts a tournament on the weekend of Sept. 10-11 as well as the UAA Championship Tournament in early November. Overall, the Spartans play eight regular season matches on their home court.

BCS Stamp on Akron  

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His staff includes coaches who came from Tennessee (Mitch Browning), Syracuse (Derrick Jackson) and Notre Dame (Ron Powlus).

They are all used to winning. They are all used to bowl games. They are all used to a big-time atmosphere.

And they are coaching a school with one bowl appearance in its history. The 2005 Zips, led by second-year coach J.D. Brookhart, stunned Northern Illlinois in the MAC title game to earn a spot in the Motor City Bowl. They lost 38-31 to DeAngelo Williams and Memphis. Four losing seasons later, Brookhart was shown the door.

Enter Ianello, who has some advantages previous Akron coaches didn't enjoy. He doesn't have to ask for new facilities to practice and play in. They were just built. InfoCision Stadium opened for business in 2009, and the $61 million building is able to hold 30,000. It isn't as big as the Rubber Bowl, but it's brand new.

Ianello has the facility tools to sell to recruits and their families. He won't have to hide the place. He'll be showing it off.

The new building should also help with scheduling. The Zips hosted Indiana in 2008 and have Syracuse visiting this season. Others are sure to follow.

The new coaches thought they got off to a good start in the spring.

Mallory had help from a familiar face. Vince Okruch, who worked with Mallory at Illinois, is the lone holdover from Brookhart's Akron staff. He will be coaching special teams and safeties.

Eager to get off to a fast start at Akron, Ianello had his coaches working hard in the early summer. After the spring recruiting season ended, the staff got together to discuss prospects. And they went over the first four 2010 opponents -- Syracuse, Gardner-Webb, Kentucky and Indiana.

Mallory will be running his own defense for the first time. At Illinois, he was co-coordinator with Dan Disch. And the defense was one designed by Ron Zook.

At Akron, Mallory takes over a unit that used a 3-4 defense. That isn't what he ran at Illinois.

Ianello has been on the offensive side of the ball throughout his career. He checks in with Mallory and the defensive coaches but will spend the bulk of his time rebuilding the Akron offense.

When it came to deciding the initial depth chart, the coaches took some of the past into account. And they watched the players during winter workouts to see what kind of progress they were making, on and off the field.

The original plan in 2009 was to redshirt freshman Patrick Nicely (6-4, 215). But a suspension for departed Chris Jacquemain and a torn ACL for backup Matt Rodgers (6-2, 205) forced Nicely onto the field.

Nicely had some positive moments in a difficult situation. He completed 54 percent of his passes for 1,349 yards and six touchdowns. He was intercepted six times.

During the spring, junior Rodgers was available on a limited basis while he recovered from knee surgery. He didn't play in the spring game, giving Nicely a chance to shine.

"I was pleased with the way we progressed this spring," Nicely said. "It takes a lot of hard work to learn all the new schemes, but we pushed each other. I like the way we are coming together."

Unlike his freshman season, Nicely has had a chance to reflect on the game and his place in the Akron offense.

"Playing now as compared to last year is really different," Nicely said. "The game has really slowed down for me. When I first started, my head was spinning. I've learned to calm down, take a breath before each play and get a good read."

Though Nicely appears to be the most game ready, Ianello has made no promises about who will start. That decision will be announced during August training camp.

"We are blessed from the standpoint that we have two young men who have started and competed at a high level in their career," Ianello said. "That is a positive position to be in."

Would Ianello be willing to use both quarterbacks?

"I prefer to win and will do whatever gives us the best chance to win," Ianello said.

Sophomore Marc Pedro (6-0, 190) is the team's third quarterback and had quality time on the field during the spring.

He has been around since the first half of the decade. Nobody else can match that.

Sixth-year senior Alex Allen (6-0, 210) was granted an extra year after missing almost two full seasons because of injuries.

Allen gained 188 yards in 2009 and scored a team-best five touchdowns despite starting just two games.

"Last year was frustrating because I wanted to go out and help the team, but I just was not physically able to perform to what we had hoped," Allen said. "I have been working hard in the offseason and believe it will definitely pay off."

Allen said his family has kept him motivated.

"My mom is a very spiritual person and told me God has a plan, no matter what it is, and we may not see it, he sees it," Allen said. "So, she was not frustrated and my dad was not frustrated, so it helped me."

Alexander has plenty of competition.

Sophomore Broderick Alexander (6-1, 205) gained 198 yards in five games last season. He is the team's leading returning rusher.

Also back are junior Dale Martin (5-11, 195) and senior Nate Burney (5-6, 170). Martin gained 167 yards in 2009 and Burney saw limited duty.

Looking for some help on offense, the new Akron staffed turned to the defense, asking senior Jalil Carter (6-0, 200) to move from safety to receiver. And Carter agreed.

Carter had been a productive defensive back, finishing third on the team in tackles in 2009 with 58. He had one interception and broke up three passes.

Carter seemed to have adapted to his new role in the spring game, catching five passes for 37 yards.

The star of the spring game, at least offensively, was senior Jeremy LaFrance (6-1, 195). He caught three passes for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

It was a continuation of LaFrance's work during the 2009 season. He was the team's leading receiver with 43 catches for 520 yards and two touchdowns.

After LaFrance, the leading returning receiver caught five passes. That's why the coaches turned to Carter. No one on the staff is thinking of Akron as a Notre Dame-type receiver powerhouse in Ianello's first season.

The third starter will probably be sophomore Nadir Brown (6-5, 195), who caught five passes in 2009.

Others in the receiver competition include juniors Curtis Brown (5-11, 200) and Gary Pride (5-8, 190).

At tight end, senior Kyle Weber (6-4, 250) leads after catching four passes last season. He'll be backed up by sophomore Rhyne Ladrach (6-4, 240) and redshirt freshman Jon Root (6-4, 240).

Ianello won't have to start from scratch up front, where three regulars return from 2009. Even with the promise of competition at every position, it's difficult for the new coaches to ignore the experienced hands up front.

But the coaches did some shuffling, starting with three-year starting left guard Mike Ward (6-3, 300). The senior will finish his career at center.

Ward didn't spend the offseason worrying about the changes. In college football, that's part of the deal.

"It is challenging anytime you switch offenses and defenses," Ward said. "But that is what we are here for. We are football players and we should be able to handle it. I think a lot of guys on this team have a good football IQ, and we should be able to pick up stuff pretty quick. We have run a lot of the plays in some form or fashion. Really, the biggest thing is learning the terminology."

The backup center is junior Dan Ronsman (6-3, 285).

Working at guard will be juniors Paul Simkovich (6-3, 295) and Zac Kasparek (6-5, 300) and sophomore Mitch Straight (6-5, 310).

Both starters return at tackle. Senior Corey Woods (6-5, 300) enters his fourth season as a starter. Junior Jake Anderson (6-5, 310) is going into his second season in the lineup.

The backups at tackle will come from among redshirt freshmen Joe Pachuta (6-6, 285), Jarrod Pughsley (6-4, 300) and Joe Vidovic (6-4, 300).

Like all defensive coaches, defensive coordinator Curt Mallory wants to start the building with the guys up front.

He's got a pair of starters returning at tackle, led by Almondo Sewell. The senior (6-1, 285) was the top tackler on the line last season with 53 stops.

The other returning starter is junior James Harvey (6-4, 290), who had 23 tackles in 2009. But he missed spring drills with a knee injury and might have lost his job to junior Dan Marcoux (6-2, 275).

"He's probably the most consistent and Almondo's probably the most talented," Mallory said.

Harvey will remain in contention for playing time, Mallory said.

"He's pretty solid," Mallory said.

At end, the lone returning starter is junior Hasan Hazime (6-4, 270).

"Hasan was solid in the spring," Mallory said. "He's still a little raw. I expect him to make some gains here for camp. He's going to have to continue to improve."

The other defensive end spot will be by committee, at least initially.

"It's still wide open there at that position," Mallory said.

Among the contenders are seniors Shawn Lemon (6-1, 235) and Deni Odofin (6-3, 235) and junior Marquinn Davis (6-4, 275).

You won't get the Akron coaches to say this position is loaded. Not after a three-win season. But of all the starting units, linebacker provides the most comfort.

Akron welcomes back its top two tacklers. Sophomore Brian Wagner (6-2, 220) was second in the MAC in tackles as a freshman with 132. That ranked seventh nationally.

"Brian Wagner has a chance to be a really solid player for us," Mallory said.

Wagner reminds Mallory a bit of former Illinois linebacker J Leman, who was among the national tackle leaders his final two seasons.

"He's a guy who is a football player," Mallory said. "You've got to watch him on film, because if you watch him in the weight room or you watch him run around, he's just an average looking guy. But when it comes right down to it, he can play football. Sometimes, that gets overlooked. He's very instinctive. He's a lot like J. I'd say he's in between J and Brit Miller [another former Illini with big tackle numbers]."

Senior Mike Thomas (5-11, 220) made 71 tackles in 2009. He transferred from Massachusetts after his freshman year and notched 81 tackles for Akron in 2008.

"He's our leader at linebacker," Mallory said. "He plays hard, high motor guy. He's a guy you would want on your team. He's a great kid, a great representative of your program."

The third returning starter, senior Sean Fobbs (6-1, 240) didn't go through spring drills because of a knee injury.

"We're anxious to see what he can do," Mallory said.

Sophomore Troy Gilmer (6-1, 230) moved into the third starting spot in the spring.

While the starters are close to being set, Mallory is looking for depth.

"We're really thin right now," Mallory said.

Good thing Mallory has spent the bulk of his college career as a secondary coach. The unit needs plenty of work.

The lone returning starter is junior cornerback Manley Waller (5-8, 165).

"He was solid in the spring," Mallory said. "He's got great speed, but he's a little bit undersized. He works his technique and does a great job with it.

"We're going to be inexperienced and a little bit young back there."

The leader for the second cornerback spot is senior Diamond Weaver (5-9, 175). Weaver is a junior college transfer who missed most of the 2009 season because of injuries.

Mallory will look to newcomers to fill in behind Waller and Weaver at cornerback.

At safety, sophomore Josh Richmond (5-10, 185) and senior Doug Richardson (6-0, 185) left the spring as the starters. The primary backup is senior Kevin Davis (6-1, 200).

"Doug is an interesting kid," Mallory said. "We got him through the ROTC program. He just earned a scholarship. I've never been around one like him. He's unique. He's got to play a little bit more under control."

Mallory said Richmond is the most talented of the safeties, "but just inexperienced."

Davis will be used as the nickel back. His experience allows the Akron coaches to move him around.

The Zips need to replace talented kick returner Dashan Miller, who averaged 25.7 yards per try in 2009 and scored on a 98-yard return. Jalil Carter averaged 18.9 yards on 13 tries last season and will get the first try.

Jeremy LaFrance is an option as a punt returner. The Zips want more attempts after bringing back just 19 in 2009.

Ianello wants to see overall improvement for the special teams. Akron was 90th nationally in punt returns and 112th in net punting.

Senior Branko Rogovic (5-8, 180) returns after hitting 7-of-15 field goals in 2009. Rogovic is a rare transfer from within the MAC, having started his career at Toledo.

He will be pushed during training camp by sophomore T.J. Marchese (5-11, 180).

The Zips have a former starter on the roster, senior Igor Iveljic (6-0, 185), who has made 33-of-48 field goals in his career.

Junior Zack Campbell (6-2, 190) returns after splitting time in 2009 with departed John Stec. Campbell averaged 38.3 yards on 27 punts, dropping four inside the 20. One punt went 76 yards.

Campbell has the job. The competition for his backup will come from walk-ons.

Ianello has made it clear he is willing to open up all positions, even quarterback. There are two in the 2010 class: Zack D'Orazio (6-1, 185) and Dylan Potts (6-0, 190). Both are Ohio kids who can run.

The offensive line figures to get some help from junior college transfer Patrick McCloskey (6-4, 290).

In the secondary, Mallory will take a look at all five incoming freshmen: Micklos Blake (5-11, 175), Seth Cunningham (6-0, 170), Anthony Holmes (6-1, 185), Sheldon Miller (6-0, 195) and Carl Washington (5-10, 175).