by Leslie Crofton

RIC’s women’s volleyball team is expected to have one of its best seasons yet due to the fact that head coach Kristen Norberg’s squad is a very veteran one. "We didn’t really lose much except for Jess [Arrighi, of Rumford], which means that we have a lot of experienced players. That in itself will play a good role in this year’s success," says Norberg.

The core of that experience is composed of senior tri-captains Kim Lebrun (Woonsocket), Brandee Trainer (North Kingstown) and Erica Waltonen (West Greenwich). The captains have been teammates since they stepped on campus three years ago. They believe that the experiences that they have had playing together will help them to lead this year’s team. "The three of us have played together all through college," says Lebrun. "When we were freshmen, we had to step it up and fill in some holes, so I’m really excited to have it all come together this season," adds Trainer. Lebrun, a setter, is RIC’s all-time leader in assists, Trainer, a middle hitter, is RIC’s all-time leader in career kills and Waltonen, also a middle hitter, set a new RIC record for digs in a season last fall.

Other key returnees who will bring their valuable experience to the floor include outside hitters Stephanie Callaghan (Warwick), and Victoria Bilalyan (Cranston). Coach Norberg cited rookies Tracy Lopes (Warren) and Kristen Bibeault (Woonsocket) as impact players who should see a lot of playing time.

Assistant coach Jennifer Hastings describes this year’s squad as "stronger than last year’s, most definitely. There is so much more confidence on the team this year." Because of this, the coaching staff feels that the Anchorwomen have the potential to place much higher in the Little East Conference (LEC) than their current pre-season ranking of sixth. They have their sights set on finishing the season among the top three teams in the conference. This will be no easy task given the strength of league powerhouses like Western Connecticut, Eastern Connecticut and Plymouth State, but Waltonen believes that this is the year to do it. "This is the most experienced, confident, talented team we’ve had in four years," says Waltonen.

Last fall the Anchorwomen were 13-11 overall and 3-4 in league play to take fifth place in the LEC, making it their first winning season since 1991. Their first chance to see how they fare in conference play this season will be when they host the Little East Round Robin on September 14 and 15.


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