Season Recap: Volleyball Season Ends as New Era Begins
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
When wrapping up a season you take into consideration all the positive aspects that made that season memorable. For the Centenary volleyball team, a 14-14 record will be overshadowed by the more notable numbers that sum up the 2011 season.

It was a season with a streak, a skid, seniors and sharp offense. It was a season that deserves to be noted as a progressive season, building for the future under second-year head coach Jon Stenman.

"This season was bittersweet for the coaching staff and players. While we had the most wins a Centenary volleyball team has had in 12 years, we fell short of our overall goals. We are certainly happy with the successes we had, but are not satisfied with the matches we felt we let slip through our grasp," said Stenman.

With the season now over, a reflection upon those notable numbers is worth taking a look at.

14 wins is the most the Centenary Ladies have accumulated in the past decade. The last season with at least 14 wins came back in 1999 with a final record of 21-13 overall.

Every good season has its ups and downs, but it was a 7-game win streak right smack in the middle of the Ladies schedule that produced that .500 finishing record. 7 wins dating from Oct. 1-9, put Centenary at 12-7 on the year and a chance at a 20-win season. During that streak, five of the seven wins were 3-0 sweeps and two of the seven wins were at home, five coming on the road (sometimes an even more daunting task).

"As a team, I believe our greatest feat was our seven-match win streak that saw us string together 18 straight sets won. To have half of our normal rotation consist of freshmen or newcomers that accomplishment really stands out" said Stenman. "A close 2nd place would be our Senior Day performance. To be able to close out the home careers of those 4 seniors in that fashion, will really stick with me for years to come.

The Ladies produced 18 straight set wins during the 7-game win streak. On the season, Centenary finished 9-5 in 3-set matches, 4-4 in 4-set matches and 1-5 in 5-set matches. The one 5-set win came on the road against Concordia (TX).

Centenary only played 7 home games this season, finishing with a record of 4-3 in the Gold Dome. Of the seven games, the best win came in a 3-0 sweep of Mary Hardin-Baylor, an ASC favorite at the time. The win also came on Senior Day, which made the straight sweep that much more exciting.

The Ladies said farewell to their four seniors: Caitlin Neese, Jaclyn Lopez, Taylor Gilmour and Kayla Tibaldo. All four seniors shared their contributions to the Ladies' program, both on and off the court. Neese led the offense with 838 assists this season, Gilmour paced the defense with 435 digs and Lopez was second-best in kills with 282 and 307 digs.

Junior middle blocker Shelby Singleton unofficially led the nation in hitting percentage this season with a .483 clip on 392 kills, just 46 errors in 717 attempts. She tied her career-high in kills with 21 three times this season. Of the 28 games played, Singleton notched double-digit kills in all but four. There were eight matches where Singleton posted no errors. Her best attack percentage came in a .741 effort over Mississippi College where she tallied 20 kills and no errors on 27 attempts. Along with her offensive prowess, the 6'6" New Orleans, LA native tallied 89 block assists and 44 solo blocks.

"Individually, our most impressive feat was having Shelby [Singleton] lead the country in hitting percentage. (as of November 2; final stats not in yet). Shelby was consistent all year and we were really able to lean on her at times when we needed a kill," said Stenman.

Having won 14 games, Stenman is confident that the new foundation of Centenary Volleyball has been set and looks forward to what the future has to offer as a Division III program.

"This was overall a great foundation year for the future of the program and I look forward to the progress of our eight returning players," said Stenman. The biggest thing we can build on from this season is the knowledge of what it takes to win. The volleyball program has had some lean years recently and to have some success in our first year in D3 will mean a great deal to the future of this program. The returners can now pass on to future teammates their experiences and lessons learned to help smooth the transition into the Centenary Way."