Carlow volleyball team begins 2018 with focus on USCAA nationals

Kristin Seamon -

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When the Carlow women’s volleyball team opens the 2018 season this weekend, the Celtics will be young, but full of potential.

The squad wrapped up preseason training camp this week and will see its first game action Friday. Carlow is slated to take on Penn State Greater Allegheny and Maine Fort Kent in the USCAA Tip-Off Tournament, at Penn State Beaver.

The tournament will be an early barometer for the Celtics’ main goal of the season — to qualify for their seventh-straight USCAA National Championship Tournament.

In 2017, the Celtics posted an 11-24 overall record, a 3-13 RSC record and a 7-7 USCAA record before finishing the season at USCAA nationals.

Carlow graduated five seniors and also lost six other players from that group.

The most notable hole to fill will be that of outside hitter Kristina Hudock, who led the Celtics’ offensive attack. The Second-Team All-River States Conference selection and USCAA First-Team All-American finished her career with more than 1,000 kills, while playing all-around.

However, the Celtics have added new talent to the roster in junior transfer Kacie Lach (Moon Township, Pa.), Carlow sophomore Taylor Gent (Springdale, Pa.), and eight freshmen — Jenna Albert (Monongahela, Pa.), Haley Chiusano (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Kylie Guzic (Lilly, Pa.), Exotica Hall (Yokosuka, Japan), Isabella Harris (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Mariah Lomire (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Megan Moskiewski (Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Kinzie Walker (Ford City, Pa.).

They will look to a pair of senior captains to provide stability.

Michaela Koran (SR/North Olmsted, Ohio) returns for her fourth season as a starting setter. She posted a team-high 776 assists for an average of 6.81 per game in 2017. She also led the Celtics in hitting percentage, at .312.

Mandy Toman (SR/Beulah, Colo.), who transferred from Waldorf University as a sophomore, has also seen consistent playing time as a defensive specialist during the past two seasons. She was third on the team in digs in 2017, averaging 2.21 per game, behind Hudock and senior Mia Marmion. This year, she may also see action at outside hitter.

The Celtics will be guided by Julie Gaul, who enters her 18th season as head coach. Assistant coaches Steve Talpas and Maggie Connor return for their eighth and fifth seasons, respectively.

The Celtics will open their home season and begin RSC play against Indiana University East, who was ranked No. 2 in the conference preseason poll, on Sept. 15.

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