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Virginia Cavaliers enter 2012 season without their defensive spark

Brian J. Leung of SB Nation's Streaking the Lawn writes that despite receiving votes in the 2012 NCAA women's basketball preseason polls the Virginia Cavaliers face some significant challenges entering the season.

In addition to Erinn Thompson's career having to come to an end due to injury, the Cavaliers have lost senior Lexie Gerson to season-ending hip surgery in early September.

Noticeably missing from the returning seniors is Lexie Gerson, who underwent hip surgery in early September and will miss the entire season. She was named to last year's ACC All-Defensive team, ranked No. 15 in the country in steals.

"The loss of Lexie was quite a shocking blow," said head coach Joanne Boyle in a released statement. "She has been a tremendous defensive spark for us on the court. We are all wishing her a speedy recovery and know that she will be back next season with that same energy and enthusiasm."

Those losses due to injury only compound what is already a tough schedule that features #16 Vanderbilt and #17 West Virginia in addition to the rigors of the ACC schedule.

For more on Virginia women's basketball, visit Streaking the Lawn.