Trojan volleyball team readies for season, eye NCAA tournament
After ending last season with a 13-14 record, the Trojan volleyball team will tip off its 2013-2014 season Friday, Aug. 30 at the Maroon Classic in Starksville, Miss. with games against Southeast Missouri State and Mississippi State.
The team started its official practice Aug. 7. “We’ve worked on skills and drills, we worked on offense. We only had one official practice,” Head Coach Van Compton said.
Earlier this month, the Trojans volleyball team was one of the four Sun Belt Conference teams honored as an recipient of the AVCA (American Volleyball Coaches Association) Team Academic Award for the 2012-2013 academic year. This was the team’s fourth year claiming the academic award.
The Trojans will bring back five returning players including junior outside hitter Edina Begic, who was named 2012 Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year after leading the nation with 5.12 kills per set. Also returning for the Trojans are junior setter Marleen de Zoete, who led the team in assists with 10.98 per set, junior defensive specialist Allison Wyatt, who finished with a total of 286 digs, sophomore outside hitter Mikakah Booher, and junior middle blocker Adisa Hodzic, who lead the team with 106 blocks.
Compton also brings in an additional eight players to the team for the following fall 2013 season with freshman Whitney Leech, freshman Megan Mathis, sophomore Sonja Milanovic, freshman Carli Owens, junior Capri Rino, sophomore Edina Selimovic, freshman Rachel Williams and sophomore Carolee Dillard, who is also on the Lady Trojans basketball team.
“We have four freshmen. It will take them a little bit. They have to learn the system,” Compton said. “Carly Owens is a middle (middle blocker), Rachel Williams is a middle (middle blocker), Kelsey Leech is a defensive player (defensive specialist), Sonja was redshirted last year and she should be an impact player. And we have Capri, who is a junior college transfer.” Compton said she expects Capri to come around for the team and Sonja because she was redshirted last year.
Last year, the team saw early injuries that left them with only eight players on the roster who could compete. Compton said that numbers would help them team this year; there will be more people to play each position to help strengthen each position on the floor. “We have more pieces to the puzzles. We have true middles, true outsides, true setters, true defensive specialist. As last year, we had to convert players that were not their positions,” she said.
This year’s goal for the Trojan volleyball are to win the conference and advance to the NCAA tournament. The Sun Belt Conference realigned the standings into one division instead of an east and west division due to an odd number (13 teams) of conference teams.