|A Good Feeling on the Mount||09/25/2012|
CRESSON—Mount Aloysius’ volleyball coach Brianna Baker is on fire about her team’s prospects on and off the court. Now in her fifth year, she coaches a young team with awesome energy and great team chemistry.
“We have two seniors showing lots of leadership,” she said.“And our focus on defense is starting to pay big dividends.
Senior Chelsea Perehinec, a Bishop Guilfoyle standout, leads the conference in digs per set with a 6.34 average. Perehinec increased 2 digs per set from last season and is ranked 11th in the nation in that statistic.
With Baker’s focus on defense, her team is ranked sixth in the entire NCAA in digs per set.
“Chelsea runs our defense,” adds Coach Baker. “She’s smart and is all over the floor.” Baker added, “we changed her position to libero this year.”
Smart is an understatement. Perehinec manages a GPA of 3.8 –important as a Mountie - and is a Student Athlete National Honors Society member.
Perehinec is one of two players whose position change is helping the Mountie defense. The other is sophomore Ashley Pipon.
Pipon moved from right-side hitter to middle this year. The move allows Pipon to get the majority of kills, but still come up with key blocks.
“(Pipon) is adding good things to our team,” Baker said. “A quiet leader last year, this season she is vocal and bringing new maturity to her teammates.”
Another surprise is freshman Megan Ruddock from Marion Center. At 6-foot-1-inch, Ruddock is a focused shot-blocker, racking up impressive stats. She is now ranked number two in the AMCC for solo blocked shots.
“Megan is a real presence at the net, and has great potential,”Baker said.
While Coach Baker is pleased with her Mountie’s defensive improvements, she is even happier watching the overall development of her team.
“Off the court we focus on academics,” she said. “And I’m proud of the approach the players have taken towards balancing their commitments as student-athletes.
“Three of our sophomores – Katie Minemyer, Ashley Manges and Cassie Cunningham - are nursing students with rigorous schedules. The remaining players are freshmen. Senior Lauren Oldham is president of the Student Athlete Academic Council (SAAC),” added Baker.
Summing up, Baker said, “In my five years as coach, this is the most motivated team I’ve worked with. They continue to surprise.”
Offensive leader, Lauren Oldham, is a Bishop Carroll alum.“Lauren broke a thumb as a sophomore,” said Baker. “At Virginia Wesleyan she suffered a second injury blocking a shot so she’s not quite at full-strength yet.
“Lauren is all heart. She is the energizer of this team along with Chelsea (Perehinec).”
Baker noted that Oldham and teammate Perehinec show class on the court and, together, provide player-leadership for the team.
Coach Baker is looking to the season with enormous optimism.“We are a young team, with developing talent, great chemistry and huge motivation,” she said. “They all want it,” she added. “Each and everyone one of them.”