Date Posted:09/10/2002,  8:00AM

2002 Volleyball Preview

New seasons bring new optimisim, and that point could not be any clearer than in the case of the 2002 Bowdoin Volleyball team. Fresh off a frustrating campaign that saw the team finish with a 7-23 record, second-year head coach Kellie Bearman cleaned house, and brought in a stellar recruiting class that spans the country.

?I?m a bit incredulous,? exclaims coach Bearman. ?Suddenly, I have equally talented and strong women who are committed to win. And I have choices about who to play! I expect great things from this team for years to come.?

The core of the team remains the same, as seniors Jess Reuben (Houston, Texas), Mara Caruso (Canton, Conn.) and Rebecca Geehr (Pittsfield, Mass.) return to lead the squad as captains. Reuben will take care of business at the net, while Caruso will play the role of defensive specialist. Geehr will see most of her time as an opposite attacker as the three are the only returnees from last season. The other non-freshman on the team is sophomore Adrienne Heflich (Setauket, N.Y.), who?s 6-2 frame will pay dividends at the net this season.

?Senior captains Mara Caruso, Becca Geehr and Jess Reuben bring a great deal of maturity to the floor,? according to Bearman. ?That, combined with our first-years? intensely competitive nature will take our team to the next level.?

And quite a class it is. Three Californians lead the group as setter Sarita Fu (Los Altos Hills, Calif.) and outside hitters Summer Gray (Pasadena, Calif.) and Jessica Schlobohm (Santa Barbara, Calif.) bring a distinct west-coast feel to the team.

First-year Bree Dallinga (Ardsley, N.Y.) will have the tough task of running the offense, as Bearman will rely on the newcomer?s sets to key the attack. Classmate Kelly Bougere (Avon, Conn.) rounds out the class at the middle hitter position.

?Bree?s grit is inspiring to the team,? says Bearman. ?She?s making it possible for us to run our offense and let our attackers shine. I?m seeing attacks [in practice] out of the seniors that I?ve never seen before and I give her part of the credit.?

Despite a tough NESCAC schedule and a young squad, Bearman is extremely positive about the 2002 Polar Bears.

?We?re going to have to work hard physically and mentally to beat some of these NESCAC teams,? she says. ?But I?m confident that we?ll do it.?