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Lady Govs volleyball opens 2010 campaign at Mississippi State

 

Austin Peay State University GovernorsAustin Peay State University’s volleyball team opens its 2010 campaign with four matches at the 2010 Maroon Classic hosted by Mississippi State, Friday and Saturday.

The Lady Govs will meet Montana in a 3:00pm, Friday contest followed by a 7:00pm tilt against host Mississippi State. Saturday’s schedule gets underway with a 10:30am match against Arkansas-Little Rock before APSU concludes its tournament stay with a 5:00pm affair with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

“The Maroon Classic is going to host some really great volleyball this weekend and we are thrilled to get the chance to face off against some very competitive teams,” said Lady Govs first-year head coach Haley Janicek. “The team has been preparing both mentally and physically for the season to start. They are extremely excited and eager to see their efforts finally culminate in a match.”

APSU Lady Govs Volleyball

APSU Lady Govs Volleyball

Austin Peay enters the tournament with the best 2009 record – 22-9 overall – among the five teams. Although the Lady Govs return five starters from that team, they must replace two key contributors from that team – 2009 Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year Stephanie Champine and outside hitter Kirstin Distler, who combined accounted for 48 percent of the team’s kills.

This season, the Lady Govs will rely on seniors Jessica Mollman, Taylor Skinner and Sarah Alisaleh to lead the effort. Skinner (83 blocks) and Mollman (72) were first and second on the team last season, respectively, in blocks from their middle blocker position and both recorded more than 200 kills. Alisaleh, the Lady Govs setter, returns after a first-team All-OVC effort in 2009 that saw her record a league-best 10.56 assists per set.

Also seeking to fill in offensively will be junior outside hitter Ilyanna Hernandez who was second on the team with 264 kills. The Lady Govs also will seek additional offensive output from junior Kayla Grantham, who suffered through an inconsistent 2009 campaign.

Austin Peay added five newcomers to the mix this season, including sophomore transfer Nikki Doyle who joined the team last season after transferring from Santa Barbara but missed the year due to injury. In addition, freshmen Calyn Hull and Lauren Henderson will get their first taste of collegiate competition this weekend.

This weekend’s matches will put a bow on the Lady Govs preseason slate. Janicek has been enthused about her team’s progress throughout preseason practice slate, particularly in the week leading up to this tournament.

 “I think our pre-season ended on a very high note,” said Janicek. “The team competed hard from day one and as a staff we could not have asked anymore from them. They came to practice every day with the intention of getting one percent better and it has – and will continue to pay great dividends.”

The Lady Govs will see a good mix of teams this weekend, ranging from experienced Montana and Arkansas-Little Rock to the youthful energy of Texas A&M Corpus Christi. In addition, the Lady Govs will have the opportunity to meet former head coach Jenny Hazelwood who now coaches host Mississippi State.

Montana posted a 14-14 record last season and fell in the 2009 Big Sky tournament semifinals to eventual tournament champion Portland State. This season the Grizzlies were picked as preseason co-favorites along with Portland State. Montana returns Brittney Brown, the 2009 Big Sky Conference Libero of the Year and one of only two seniors on the team. It will be the first-ever meeting between the Grizzles and Lady Govs on the volleyball court.

Mississippi State made a big stride under Hazelwood, who led her new program to a 9-22 record in her first season and a fifth-place finish (5-15 record) in the Southeastern Conference’s West Division. The Bulldogs were picked to finish fifth in their division again this season. Senior middle blocker Ashley Newsome returns for her final season as one the MSU’s top blockers, ranking among the program’s top 10 in career total blocks. APSU and MSU have met three times previously, with the Lady Govs holding  2-1 series advantage – the Bulldogs winning the last meeting in 2007.

Arkansas-Little Rock returns six letterwinners from last season’s team, which posted a 16-14 overall mark. Trojans head coach Van Compton, entering her 22nd season with the team, added five newcomers to the mix this season. UALR was recently picked to finish third in the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division. Junior Kristi Block is one of three returning starters and averaged 1.60 kills per set last season. The Lady Govs will seek their first-ever victory against the Trojans, who have won the three previous meetings in the series, the last occurring during the 2007 campaign.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi posted a school-record for victories, finishing last season with a 9-22 record. The Islanders were picked to finish sixth in the Southland Conference’s West Division in 2010 and return just five letterwinners from last season’s team while adding 10 newcomers to the mix. Senior outside hitter Emma Ridley was named to the All-Southland Conference preseason team. Austin Peay and TAMCC met last season in Clarksville, their only previous meeting, with APSU grabbing the victory.


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