2017 Little East Offensive Player of the Year (Jess Williamson)

Schmitz and Austin Named USM Volleyball Captains

2018 USM volleyball captains Nicole Schmitz (L) and Kylee Austin.
2018 USM volleyball captains Nicole Schmitz (L) and Kylee Austin.
Huskies Open 2018 Season at Maine Maritime on Friday

            GORHAM, Maine -- University of Southern Maine women's volleyball head coach Diane Newell announced this week that senior setter Nicole Schmitz (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham) and junior middle hitter/blocker Kylee Austin (Saco, Maine/Thornton Academy) have been named captains for the upcoming 2018 campaign.

            This is the second straight season that Schmitz has shared the captain's responsibilities.  Austin is making her first tour as a captain.

            The Huskies open the season this Friday and Saturday (August 31-September 1) traveling to Maine Maritime Academy for a four-team, round-robin event.  Also competing are Saint Joseph's College and the University of New England.  USM opens the proceedings tomorrow evening (6 p.m.) taking on Maine Maritime.

            The Huskies return nine players from last year's squad that compiled a 20-10 overall record and a 3-4 mark in Little East Conference play.  The Huskies' overall winning percentage (.667) equaled the program record achieved three times (16-8, 1985; 22-11, 2013; and 20-10, 2017).  Schmitz is the lone senior on Newell's 14-player roster.

            Heading into her fourth season, Schmitz set three school records during the 2017 campaign, highlighted by her single-season mark for most assists (927).  She ranked second in the Little East Conference averaging 8.83 assists per set.  In addition to her setting, Schmitz contributed 57 kills, 36 service aces and 151 digs and played in all 30 matches.

            Austin emerged last season as a solid middle hitter/blocker.  She finished fifth in the LEC averaging 0.68 blocks per set.  The 5-foot-10 Austin ranked second on the team in kills (169) and third in kills per set (1.62).  She also compiled 25 solo blocks and 44 blocking assists in 30 matches.

            After Friday night's season opener against MMA, the Huskies will take on the University of New England and Saint Joseph's College on Saturday (10 a.m., 12 p.m.).  USM will play its home opener next Wednesday evening (September 5) hosting Bowdoin College.

            The Huskies were picked to finish sixth in the annual LEC coaches' preseason poll that was released last week.  Defending champion University of Massachusetts Boston led the poll for the tenth consecutive year garnering six first-place votes and 61 total points.  Keene State College received two first-place votes and 58 points to take the runner-up spot in the poll.  Eastern Connecticut State University earned one first-place vote and 48 points.  Plymouth State University, was fourth with 40 points.