As the fall sport seasons get underway, gopetrels.com will take a look at the upcoming campaigns for each team this coming week. First up: the 2011 volleyball team.
2011 Volleyball Preview
When head coach Kurt Matthews took over the volleyball program in 2008 the team had not posted a season of double-digit wins since 2002. Now, beginning his fourth year, the Stormy Petrels have strung three consecutive double-digit win campaigns together, highlighted by the squad's 17 victories in 2009. With his best recruiting class to date already on campus Matthews' squad is poised for another run up the ranks of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) in 2011.
The 2011 Stormy Petrels feature a solid core of returning starters led by 2-year starting setter junior Brittin Dawson (Anderson, S.C.), 2-year starting attacker junior Molly Buckner (Augusta, Ga.) and 2-year defensive specialist junior Michelle Maurin (Layfayette, La.). Dawson, with over 60 career starts at setter, provides excellent leadership qualities to the team. Buckner is a versatile player, having started at four different positions in her two years. Maurin, who will compete for the starting Libero spot, features one of the best serves in all the SCAC.
Matthews expects sophomore Kaily Yarbrough (Mosca, Colo.) to continue contributing on the outside while sophomore setter Kate Cassell (Arlington, Texas) will see much more playing time. Yarbrough was a solid sub as a freshman and, with her high-flying ability, will assume a starting role this year. Cassell is a former district setter of the year in the metro Dallas area and she will compete with Dawson at setter. Sophomore Kaneisha Currie (Memphis, Tenn), who started 13 matches last season, also returns to provides valuable depth as a skilled utility player capable of handling 3 different positions.
Coach Matthews is very excited about what he considers his best recruiting haul ever. Leading the way will be freshman outside hitter Anna Marie Disalvo (Tallahassee, Fla.). Anna Marie will immediately vie for all-conference awards with her talent and ability to control a match. Joining Disalvo on the outside will be McKenna Bondarenko (Centennial, Colo.) Bondarenko is a dynamic 5'10" outside hitter who will be one of the most physically gifted athletes in the SCAC.
The team also added much needed height to the middle hitting position with the arrival of twin towers 6'0" Lisa Inglis (Manatee, Fla.) and 6'1" Ashley Haislip (Loudoun Valley, Va.) Each of these high school stars are outstanding blockers, something the squad has sorely missed in recent years. Rounding out the recruiting class is 5'8" Kayley Earley (Canton, Ga.). She will compete for the starting Libero position, which was recently vacated by former 4-year starter Hilary Miller.
The 2011 schedule features 11 home matches highlighted by the Petrels hosting the SCAC East Pod October 22-23. The Petrels will battle conference rivals Sewanee and Centre on Saturday before capping the weekend with a match against Oglethorpe's travel partner Birmingham-Southern on Sunday.