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2004 Volleyball Season Preview


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ColorVolleyDane2.jpg

 

2004 Volleyball Preview

 

Head Coach: Kelly Sheffield

 

2003 Record: 24-10

 

2003 Conference Finish: 4th

 

 

 

If you’ve never been present to see an NCAA record broken, you’ll want to keep your eyes on Albany Volleyball this year. Eileen Nicole Rodriguez should set the career record for aces early this season in just her junior year.

 

The current career record for aces is 416, set by Casie Alexander of Seton Hall in 1993. After just her sophomore season, Rodriguez has 350. She already holds the single season aces record, set her freshman year. She was second in the country in aces last year and Albany as a team was 3rd with teammate Jill Dombrowski 25th individually. According to Head Coach Kelly Sheffield, no other player in the America East has held a NCAA career record. Rodriguez will be the first.

 

There’s a good chance that may be only one of the highlights this year for UA Volleyball. Coach Sheffield has engineered a terrific turnaround in his previous 3 seasons. His first year, the team was 297th in RPI and had a dismal record. Two years later, Danes Volleyball was rated in the top third of the country and just out of the top 100 with an RPI of 103.

 

The turnaround came with a young core-the roster consisted of just one senior last year-and a team filled with freshman and sophomores. In addition, there were a variety of injuries. Ashley DeNeal missed seven conference games with mononucleosis but still impressed coaches enough to earn the conference’s Rookie of the Year award. Memphis transfer Ashley Green was hobbled with four stress fractures. Despite the injuries, the Danes posted a 24-10 record, their best season so far. They also made the conference tournament for second consecutive time.

 

By the way, if that seemed like a lot of Ashleys, there are two more coming. Ashley Hunter, a two-year starter for the St. Louis Billikens of Conference USA, has transferred to Albany. Coach Sheffield described her as a powerful hitter who will have an immediate impact. Freshman Ashley Crenshaw joins the Danes from her home state of Alabama and brings the total number of Danes volleyball players named Ashley to five. Sheffield said Crenshaw is more athletic than anyone currently on the team and is a terrific leaper. He said it may take her a little time to adjust to Division One volleyball, as the level of competition in Alabama isn’t the same as in recruiting hotbeds on the West Coast, Texas and the Midwest. After she adjusts, Sheffield believes she should be an all-conference player during her career.

 

For a team that was 4-20 in 2001 Sheffield said there weren’t a dozen programs in the country in worse shape when he took over. He said he didn’t layout a framework plan in 2001 for how long it would take to climb the mountain, but he said if he did, he would have never thought it would be this fast. We "couldn’t be more ecstatic with the way things are going."

 

Over the past two seasons under Sheffield, the Danes have averaged a 10 win improvement each year. What kind of expectations does that leave for 2004? Sheffield said there is a "possibility of something very special" this year for UA Volleyball. The possibility of conference championships and NCAA births are out there, but he stopped short of placing those kinds of expectations. He did say he expects a three-team race in the America East this year with Albany, Northeastern and New Hampshire being the teams to beat. New Hampshire has won two consecutive titles and, although they lost talented players to graduation, have red-shirted some very good players for this year.

 

In addition to their talent, the Albany coach cited New Hampshire as a tough place to play. He said they draw good crowds and provide a great environment. Not that Albany is lacking in that department. Sheffield said UA’s facilities stand up to anyone in the conference. He said some improvements for the future have been discussed including a scoreboard and better sound system. On a good night though, Sheffield said the Albany crowd provides a sound system of their own.

 

Despite the comfortable home environment Sheffield will have his team on the road a lot in the out-of-conference portion of the schedule. Road dates include at Ball State and a tournament at American University which features the host team and perennial powers Arizona and Temple. Sheffield is on the national voting pool and he expects Arizona will be a top 10 team this season when Albany faces them. Albany will also head out to Syracuse to play the Orange.

 

Highlighted on the home schedule is a very fan-friendly date of a Tuesday evening game against Siena on September 21. Albany has won the past two meetings between the teams. Sheffield says the two programs have gone in opposite directions the last few years, but he and the team understand the importance of the game. The game is attended by a lot of young volleyball players in the area. "They’re trying to decide whether they want to become Saints or they want to become Danes," he said. "This is a good occasion to inspire kids to come to Albany."

 

University at Albany

 

2004 Volleyball Schedule

 

Sept. 1 (Wed.) at IUPU-Fort Wayne 7:00

 

Sept. 3 (Fri.) at Ball State Tournament

 

Sept. 4 (Sat.) at Ball State Tournament

 

Sept. 10 (Fri.) at Delaware+ 2:00

 

Sept. 10 (Fri.) vs. George Washington+ 4:30

 

Sept. 11 (Sat.) vs. New Mexico+ 12:00

 

Sept. 14 (Tue.) Seton Hall 7:00

 

Sept. 17 (Fri.) at American Tournament

 

(Arizona, Temple)

 

Sept. 18 (Sat.) at American Tournament

 

Sept. 21 (Tue.) Siena 7:00

 

Sept. 24 (Fri.) at Brown Tournament

 

Sept. 25 (Sat.) at Brown Tournament

 

Sept. 28 (Tue.) at Syracuse 7:00

 

Oct. 1 (Fri.) Iona 7:00

 

Oct. 5 (Tue.) Binghamton* 7:00

 

Oct. 8 (Fri.) at Hartford* 7:00

 

Oct. 9 (Sat.) at Northeastern* 7:00

 

Oct. 16 (Sat.) Maine* 4:00

 

Oct. 17 (Sun.) New Hampshire* 4:00

 

Oct. 22 (Fri.) at UMBC* 7:00

 

Oct. 23 (Sat.) at Stony Brook* 4:00

 

Oct. 26 (Tue.) at Binghamton* 7:00

 

Oct. 29 (Fri.) Northeastern* 7:00

 

Oct. 30 (Sat.) Hartford* 4:00

 

Nov. 5 (Fri.) Stony Brook* 7:00

 

Nov. 6 (Sat.) UMBC* 7:00

 

Nov. 12 (Fri.) at Maine* 7:00

 

Nov. 13 (Sat.) at New Hampshire* 4:00

 

*America East Conference Opponent

 

+Delaware Tournament (Newark, Del.)

Edited by Dane Pound
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I wrote it. I'm hoping to do something similar for all the fall sports before they begin their seasons.

 

I realize everyone on this board has their special sport they follow and they're not going to attend every game in every sport the University offers. One of the things I'd like to accomplish with the previews is to show that there are good things happening in just about every sport at UA and maybe, just maybe, I'll convince you go catch a game or two in a sport you hadn't thought of going to. By the way, just about every fall sport has a game against Siena this fall if you're trying to decide which one to go to.

 

In talking with Coach Sheffield it's easy to see why he's had the success he's had. Super nice guy and very enthusiastic about his program and the University overall. One of the things we talked about was the success the spring sports had this year. The first time since the upgrade that UA has had that kind of success in a variety of sports. It really promoted an atmosphere of winning on campus and in the local media that hadn't existed in a while. He's hoping his team can help continue that this fall and it certainly looks possible.

 

One last thing, if you look at Rodgriguez pace for that record she had over 140 aces last year. If she continues with that she will finish with over 600 for her career and the career record is 400. That's obliterating a 10 year old record.

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Great Job. Also, I would imagine coaches are going to start reading this board, for the good and the bad, so it is just another sign of the growth of our programs that we can get interviews like that.

 

I am telling you guys....Marr said it best when he took the job at UA; We are a sleeping giant!

 

Just look at SienaTony getting all riled up at Patch because UA is going after the Siena recruits as well. It's like Siena things they are the mid-major Kings. They aren't even in the Top 15 in my mid-major book.

 

He states that kids dont want to come to the Capital District. Interesting considering that Sheffield has gotten kids from Puerto Rico, Alabama, the Volleyball capital of the Midwest (INDIANA). Football: Jersey, Fla, Virginia, Mass, CT, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, California. Soccer: Maryland plus the aforementioned states. Hoops: Iowa, Texas (albeit short lived), the aforementioned states, Delaware, Arizona, etc. Lax: CANADA

 

Do I even have to go on w/ my rebuttal of his idiotic comment? Fact is, UA has put the $$ into an all-around sports program that will take longer to build up from scratch, however has the potential to dim the lights on SIENA's progam. The minute UA starts playing big names in football (IAA names) and wins some hoop games, you can bet that kids will want to come to the Capital District. If you do a 20 year comparison (obviously 15 years from now) of Siena's first 20 DI years to UA's, I'd bet my butt that we will have built a stronger ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT that is a MID-MAJOR power in all sports....not one.

 

Sorry for the rant...but his post ticked me off and this interview with Coach Sheffield is proof that it can be done w/ all sports in the Capital District, with kids from varied locales!

Edited by Dane96
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as usual, great work Dane Pound, more than doing your part to improve the entire program ...

Highlighted on the home schedule is a very fan-friendly date of a Tuesday evening game against Siena on September 21. Albany has won the past two meetings between the teams. Sheffield says the two programs have gone in opposite directions the last few years, but he and the team understand the importance of the game.

... see you there ...

By the way, just about every fall sport has a game against Siena this fall if you're trying to decide which one to go to.

football?? ... oops! (not trying to rub anything in, i have family who are former siena players)

The minute UA starts playing big names in football (IAA names) and wins some hoop games, you can bet that kids will want to come to the Capital District. If you do a 20 year comparison (obviously 15 years from now) of Siena's first 20 DI years to UA's, I'd bet my butt that we will have built a stronger ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT that is a MID-MAJOR power in all sports....not one.

Sorry for the rant...but his post ticked me off and this interview with Coach Sheffield is proof that it can be done w/ all sports in the Capital District, with kids from varied locales!

Dane96, nice post

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To be fair on a couple of things:

 

1.) Money talks, so people will come to the Capital Region if you offer them full scholarships, as volleyball probably does.

 

2.) Volleyball changed their rules so that there are no side outs anymore, and you play up to 30. So although in theory it's the same number of points, aces across the board have ramped up since the rules changes.

 

Not to diminsh her record, but if you look at the numbers pre- and post-change, it's striking.

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Actually, DK2 is a little off with his assessments. All five games are rally scored - which means there is a point scored with every serve. Although games now go to 30, the matches are actually quite shorter. I remember going to games when I lived on the west coast that lasted 2 1/2 - 3 hours. Matches now rarely last 2 hours and some seem to be over in just over an hour. There are more points being scored, but there is not necessarily more serves being attempted because of the new scoring format.

 

I also enjoyed the article. The volleyball team is really improving and is fun to watch. They've got a great chance of winning a conference championship. I'd love to see an article on the men's and women's soccer programs as well. The women's coach has had tremendous success elsewhere, and I'm sure he will bring that recipe to the capital district.

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'04 is right. I'm not sure about the total number of serves. I imagine it's about the same... but someone would have to look it up. The matches are definitely shorter, because whereas before you could have five sideouts in a row, no points given, now there is a point on every play, whether its your service or not.

 

The serve is the most important weapon in rally scoring, because if you go for the ace and get it, great, but if you miss it, point for the other team. Bad servers are a huge liability now.

 

It was wrong to say there are no sideouts; rather it's not your granddaddy's sideout like you got taught in gym class. Getting a point on the opponent's serve would be a sideout now, as opposed to earning the serve back.

 

It would be interesting for someone to do an assessment of the pre- and post-rule changes. I just found it interesting that it appears that aces have risen dramatically on an individual level since the rules change. It could be just coincidental, or that having Rodriguez at UAlbany has made it seem like its risen, when it hasn't across the board.

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