Rivier aiming high

NASHUA – It wasn’t long after his Rivier University women’s volleyball team was upset at the Muldoon Center by Johnson & Wales in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference finals that Raiders coach Craig Kolek pondered the future.

And it looked pretty good, despite the upcoming graduation loss of one of the program’s best players, Emily O’Reilly.

"She’s definitely a hard player to replace but I think we found somebody," Kolek said. "And the girls have been pretty focused since the end of last year. They worked hard in the off-season, got together a lot. It’s (the desire to win this year) is pretty strong."

So is the roster, with several back from a 28-7 team as they open up this weekend in the Big Apple at the New York University Labor Day Invitational. The player Kolek feels will replace O’Reilly is 5-foot-8 sophomore Hayley Macken out of Clifton Park, N.Y. She was on the roster a year ago, but had to wait her turn.

"She’s really athletic," Kolek said. "She got overlooked (by other schools). She could be a Division II or a low-level Division I player."

Of course you win with experience, and the Raiders have plenty of that. Senior Lauren Silverman out of Chelmsford, Mass., was an All-American last year and could be even better this year. "She’s tall (5-11), athletic, jumps well and offensively really strong," Kolek said.

The Raiders are also looking for good things from senior middle hitter Dana Mott, and especially another senior, Molly McCormack. The Raiders’ 5-7 outside hitter from Ballston Lake, N.Y., has a chance, if she stays healthy, to reach 1,000 career kills and 1,000 career digs. It would be a dual milestone not seen by Riv before.

"I’ve been coaching 20 years and I’ve never, never had anybody do that," Kolek said.

There is also a local on the squad, Campbell alum Alex Trevains, a 5-10 junior middle hitter. Kolek, as always, has a host of recruits waiting in the wings. One of those, Jillian Boyle out of Andover, Mass., could contribute right away.

It was a bitter pill to swallow a year ago after being the tourney favorite, and the Raiders received six first place votes in the coaches’ poll, tied with J&W. Right now, Kolek feels they are on pace to be as good if not better than a year ago. Their quest for a threepeat went by the boards, but starting a new title streak and a return to the NCAAs is the goal.

"They haven’t missed a beat from last year," he said.

They just want to go a step or two further.

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Over at Daniel Webster College, meanwhile, volleyball is once again a sport in transition as the Eagles are on the verge of naming a new coach. They have a scheduled season opener Saturday vs. Lyndon State in a tournament at Mount Ida that school officials maintain they will play in.

First, Braden Zamore, who built up the men’s and women’s programs, left in the spring of 2014 to coach at St. Anselm.

And then his successor, Pete Kazlas, bolted in July for the men’s and women’s opening at New England Collegiate Conference foe Newbury College in Brookline, Mass., officially named coach of both on July 14. Kazlas did a superb job, going 16-13 overall with the Eagle men while 11-19 (5-3 NECC) with the women in the 2015-16 academic year.

The Eagles graduated just two seniors and could have as many as seven juniors on the squad, so they should be in good shape.

They had three All-NECC players a year ago, including Bedford’s Hannah Koehler (First Team, junior this year) and Third Teamers Nicole Beard (junior) and Madeline Roulier (one of two potential seniors).

Koehler lead the Eagles with 224 total kills a season ago after transferring in from Division II’s Dowling College. All Beard had done was post 957 assists (third all-time at DWC) in her first two season. Roulier, meanwhilehas posted three-season totals of 569 kills (fourth all-time at DWC), 793 digs (seconnd all-time), 39 total blocks, 146 aces (sixth all-time), and 86 assists covering 77 total matches.

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Is it too early to start thinking ice hockey? Not really. The Daniel Webster men’s and women’s teams had their schedules finalized over the summer for their second full-fledged NCAA seasons.

The Eagle men are still independent but do have a scheuling agreement with the New England Hockey Conference (NEHC) and will play a 25-game regular season schedule, 14 of which will be home at Conway Arena.

The season opens with a pair of home games as the Eagles face Neumann on Friday, October 28 at 7 p.m. and take on Manhattanville the following day at 4 p.m.

Other home games include Southern New Hampshire, Franklin Pierce, Saint Anselm, New England College, Lebanon Valley, Norwich, Saint Michael’s, Southern Maine, Babson, UMass Boston, Skidmore and Castleton.

Two of the Eagles’ opponents finished ranked in the top 15 nationally last season while three others finished receiving votes.

The women’s program are part of a conference – members of the Colonial Hockey Conference (CHC). The Eagles will play a 23-game schedule with seven home dates at Skate 3 Arena in Tyngsboro, Mass.

Unlike the men, the women have to start the season with the first four games on the road, beginning on Oct. 28 at Southern Maine.

The Eagles play their home opener on Nov. 11 against CHC foe Salem State, coached by former Nashua South coach Jon Vlachos. DWC opens CHC play with two weekend games at SUNY-Canton on Nov. 4-5.

Home dates also include visits from Morrisville State, Post, Johnson & Wales, Endicott and Becker. DWC’s regular season finale is slated for February 18th.