Sept. 1, 2009

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA - The Little East Conference released its 2009 Pre-Season Coaches Polls for the Fall season recently and the University of Massachusetts Boston Volleyball Team earned 58 points, including four first place votes to finish first in the pre-season survey.

UMass Boston Women's Soccer was voted fourth among LEC teams with 33 points for its highest pre-season standing ever, while the Men's Soccer squad received 12 points for an eighth place showing.

The volleyball team finished 25-9, including 5-1 in LEC play and came within one point of winning the conference championship a year ago. The Beacons return senior outside hitter and All-Region performer Kate McWhorter (Bakersfield, CA) from a year ago. The senior tri-captain was also named the LEC Offensive Player of the Year, while eclipsing the school record for total kills with 493 and smashing the school standard for hitting percentage with a blistering .364 mark. She is joined by senior tri-captain Kate White (Plymouth, MA), who turned in another impressive season with her third straight 300-plus kill season with a total of 313 to give her 963 for her career to capture the school's career mark.

Sophomore setter and tri-captain Cassy Hanneman (Denver, CO) burst onto the collegiate scene last year by shattering the UMass Boston record for assists with 1,063 and her 57 aces gave her a rate of 0.49 per set to lead the league and cement her status as the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year. She also landed a spot on the LEC All-Star Second Team and should be the catalyst for the Beacons' powerful offense again this year. Sophomore middle hitter Molly Rattigan (Dorchester, MA) is also back after setting a school record for block assists with 59 and was one of two players on the team to start in all 34 matches. She ranked third on the team in points scored and should be even better with a year of college under her belt.

UMass Boston has the bullseye on its back as the pre-season favorite, but armed itself with reinforcements with an extremely talented recruiting class. Freshman Shannon Thompson (Moorpark, CA) will start right away in the middle and should challenge to become the third Beacon to earn the LEC Rookie of the Year award in the last four seasons. The 6'2" front court player will be an imposing force on the offensive and defensive side of the net. Joining her up front is classmate Alexa Sullivan (South Dennis, MA). The Cape Cod native is a tremendous athlete, being named a Boston Globe Atlantic Coast League All-Star in both volleyball and track & field. She was also selected a Division II Massachusetts State All-Star and is a great blocker, who should make a great contribution.

Freshman Bethany Rossoll (Colorado Springs, CO) will step into the starting libero position right away in her freshman campaign. She reads the game well and owns very good defensive skills after a high school career that saw her help Thomas B. Doherty High School to three straight playoff berths.

The women's soccer team is a year removed from its best season ever. The Beacons set a school record for regular season and conference victories, while winning and hosting their first-ever LEC tournament match, before falling in the conference semifinals. UMass Boston will look to senior midfielder Kristi Morales (San Francisco, CA) to build on a breakout season that saw her rack up a career-high 20 points on eight goals and six assists in 2008. She earned First Team All-Star honors among her LEC peers and ranked eighth in points and goals. Sophomore Kristin Mulry (Holbrook, MA) posted one of the greatest seasons in school annals en-route to being named the Little East Conference Rookie of the Year. She found the back of the net 14 times and added a helper for 29 points to place her second in the league in points and goals, while setting a UMB freshman record in both categories to earn Second Team All-Star accolades.

Sophomore defender Samantha Place (Newton, NJ) also returns after a rookie season that saw her named to the LEC All-Star Second Team. She saw action in 16 contests and registered two goals and a pair of assists, while helping to solidify the backfield. Classmate Molly Kuchar (Ashville, NC) continues the theme of a youthful, yet talented roster for the Beacons. The lanky midfielder was the only rookie to start all 21 matches and established a new school record with seven assists to go with three goals for 13 points. Sophomore Brianna Cavanaugh (Belchertown, MA) will bring her imposing frame to the midfield after making the switch from the backfield. She started 19 of 20 matches last season and should is on track for a tremendous career.

UMass Boston offensive effort will be bolstered by talented junior transfer Tina Gillen (Carver, MA), who comes to the Harbor Campus from NCAA Division II Assumption College, where she was a Northeast 10 Conference Third Team All-Star. The forward led the Greyhounds with seven goals and was second with 15 points and should make an immediate impact for UMB. The same could be said about junior transfer Kimberly Campbell (East Bridgewater, MA), who tallied an impressive 39 points on nine goals and 21 assists from the midfield for Massasoit Community College, while leading the school to a Massachusetts Community College Athletic Conference championship.

The Beacons will also get a lift from a familiar face with the return of senior goalkeeper Jessica Penta (Revere, MA). The 5'9" keeper last put on the gloves for UMass Boston in 2006, when she led the nation with a school-record 272 total saves as a freshman. Following a two-year hiatus that saw her play in a women's football league, she is ready to resume the role as the Beacons' last line of defense between the posts.

The men's soccer team will look forward to rebounding with a successful season that could end up with a return to the Little East Conference tournament after a three-year absence. Senior goalkeeper Domenick Persuitte (West Barnstable, MA) will anchor the defense once again for the Beacons after playing every second of every match last season. He led the LEC with 6.25 saves per contest and stood fourth with a .763 save percentage. Junior captain Alex Cavallero (Lenox, MA) has started all 33 matches in his career and will be counted on again as not just one of UMass Boston's best players, but also its backbone as a leader. The midfielder set career-highs in goals (four) and points (nine) and is primed for a big year. Senior Matthew Parentele (Holyoke, MA) joined the team last year and enters his senior campaign as one of the team's top leaders as well. He started 16 matches in the midfield and the backfield last year and should be a main contributor again.

Sophomore Igor DaCruz (Cambridge, MA) should also give the Beacons a lift after a two-year hiatus. The midfielder enjoyed a solid rookie season in 2006 with nine points, including four goals and will look to pick up his development where he left off. Sophomore Jaime Delgado (Pembroke Pines, FL) hit the ground running for UMass Boston last season and is a dynamic player with great ability and the potential to take it up a notch in his second year for UMass Boston.