After graduating thrice-honored first-team all-Ivy outside hitter Lydia Rudnick ’13 and losing three straight Ivy matchups at the end of last season, head coach Sabrina King ’01 — herself once a standout member of Princeton women’s volleyball — remains enthusiastic about her team’s prospects. Five new Tigers from the Class of 2017 will take the court this season, but King admits she does not know which one will have the biggest impact.
“It really is a mystery to me. And I’m excited to see who rises to the occasion,” she said.
Dillon Gymnasium will see the addition of three experienced outside hitters. Mary Claire Bartlett of New York, N.Y. was named a league all-star four times at the Brearley School and apparently has good genes: Her father, Richard Bartlett ’79, played lacrosse, hockey and lightweight football at Princeton; her uncle Paul Bartlett ’82 played lacrosse; and her older sister Hillary Bartlett ’12 helped women’s tennis win two Ivy League titles.
Freshmen Cara Mattaliano and Ellie Shannon add to what King called a “wealth” of hitters.
“I think Cara and Ellie are both excellent pin hitters and can contribute immediately on either the outside or the right side,” the third-year coach said.Last year, current junior Ginny Willis earned her second All-Ivy honor as the team’s primary setter. Rookie Lauren Miller of San Diego will join her this year, and King believes Miller “can contribute right away.”
King praises the strong work ethic of Brittney Ptak, an incoming middle blocker who happens to hail from the same high school and club as her new head coach.
While winning matches and returning to the top of the Ivy League remain the priorities, King gives a great deal of weight to the development of a team dynamic.
“One of our main goals for this season is really just working together as a team for a common goal,” she said. “While that seems very, you know, cliche or something that obviously a team does, we have a larger roster. And we really want to make sure that everyone is on the same page and all-in at all times.”
King hopes high-level team dynamics will be the foundation for a more successful year and said that she feels that the Class of 2017 will fit in well.
“With this class, I was really looking at a couple things,” she said. “The first was a really high volleyball IQ. I wanted kids who really had a good idea about the game, who weren’t necessarily going to be projects for me and could work into our system right away. It’s a great class, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do.”