Aug 14, 2014 3:51 PM by UL Sports Information
LAFAYETTE, La. - Coming into the 2014 season, the Louisiana Ragin' Cajuns will have a luxury that few other teams in the Sun Belt Conference - or the country - will have: a senior setter.
Andrea Hole made the successful switch from outside hitter to setter as a junior, and after just one season running the Ragin' Cajun offense has solidified herself as one of the top setters in the SBC, earning second team all-Sun Belt Conference honors in 2013.
"A great setter can make an average team great, and an average setter can make a great team average. Andrea is a great setter," Louisiana head coach Heather Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "I have yet to see someone who runs the offense as quick and as well as she does."
As a junior, Hole ranked third in the league with 10.52 assists per set, the most by a Ragin' Cajun setter since Beth Henson averaged 10.53 in the 2002 campaign. She will enter her senior year as one of only two returning setters in the SBC to average better than 10 assists per set a season ago.
"She could be a libero, a right side and she is an amazing passer. She is just an amazing all-around player," Mazeitis-Fontenot said.
During the summer, the Ragin' Cajuns had 17 of 19 players on campus enrolled in summer school, with the only two not staying on campus being Hole and Jessica Bartczyszyn; however, Mazeitis-Fontenot says that of those 19 players on the roster, none reported for fall camp in better shape than her returning setters.
Hole, a native of Norway, spent time over the summer practicing with the Norwegian national squad, while Bartczsyzn returned to Illinois to continue rehab from an early-season concussion that allowed her to play in just four matches as a freshman last year.
Still, Bartczyszyn made an impact her short time on the court. Her most significant contribution came early in the year, where she stepped into the starting setter role at the Sawyer Camillo Classic after Hole suffered an injury in practice.
She seized the opportunity, averaging 9.27 assists per set in those three starts and earned all-tournament honors in leading the Ragin' Cajuns to a pair of wins.
"We are very glad to have Jessica back after her injury last year. Even in the spring she was back, but wasn't back all the way," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "I can see the hours she put in working back home in Illinois this summer, and for that I am so proud of her."
A setter by trade, Bartczyszyn will be looked to contribute in multiple ways to the roster this season, with the expectation of being ready to hit the floor at a moment's notice.
"We know she can step in at any time because she showed it last year," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "If we decide to run a 6-2, then she is a starter. If we stay in a 5-1, we know she is fully capable of getting on the court as a defensive specialist."
Meanwhile, Louisiana will also welcome versatile freshman Keely Hayes to the roster this year. Hayes comes to Lafayette from Cy-Fair High School in the Houston area where she led the Bobcats to an 18-0 district record and the Class 5A Region III semifinals as a senior. Her efforts helped her be named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 5A all-state team.
"Keely is going to be one of the freshmen who makes an impact for us, but she has to find her place," Mazeitis-Fontenot said. "She is an amazing hitter, but we brought her in as a setter knowing she very well could be a six-rotation outside hitter. I expect us to be able to utilize her in a lot of areas, other than setting, until we need her as a setter."
Hayes also brings a volleyball pedigree to the Cajuns with her sister, Lacy, having played at Clemson before transferring and finishing her career at Division II volleyball power West Texas A&M, while another sister, Kameryn, is currently on the Buffs' roster.