Austin Peay Sports Information Office
Clarksville, TN – A 17-day preseason will be put to the test when the Austin Peay State University volleyball team opens its 2014 campaign at the Big Orange Bash, hosted by Clemson, Friday-Saturday.
The Lady Govs open their regular-season with a 1:00pm, Friday contest against Troy. Austin Peay then meets host Clemson 7:00pm, Friday which will be available on Tigercast – Clemson’s live streaming video service. The weekend concludes when Austin Peay faces USC Upstate in a 3:00pm, Saturday affair.“We have worked hard in the preseason and I’m pleased with our progress,” said Lady Govs head coach Taylor Mott. “This opening weekend will provide a good range of competition to test ourselves against. I believe if we go out and compete for each point that we will come home with positive results.”
Austin Peay returns four starters and its libero a 2013 team that went 13-22 in a campaign derailed by injuries during the first four weeks. However, the Lady Govs rebounded to post a 9-7 record in Ohio Valley Conference play and finish tied for fourth in the overall league race.
Senior outside hitter Jada Stotts enters 2014 as a Preseason All-OVC pick and will look to rebound from a injury-plagued 2013 campaign. She will be joined on the attack by redshirt sophomore Sammie Ebright, who was an OVC All-Freshman team selection last season. Also returning to lead the Lady Govs are the setting duo of senior Cami Fields and junior Aubrey Marsellis.
The Lady Govs did lose starting middle blocker Lauren Henderson, who was an All-OVC and OVC All-Tournament pick as a senior. Austin Peay returns a pair of senior middle blockers – Liz Landon and Hillary Plybon – who are expected to step into fill the vacated role.
In addition, Austin Peay added three freshmen to its roster with middle blockers Ashley Slay and Kelly Ferguson available to bolster that position while Christina White will add depth at outside hitter.
“We have a lot of experience in the starting group,” said Mott. “But experience won’t win us matches alone, we have to put that experience to good use. We showed our capabilities at times last year, but we struggled with consistency match-to-match. That is something we have to improve if we’re going to make a big step forward this season.”
Lady Govs to Watch
- Jada Stotts, OH, Sr. – Recorded 304 kills in 93 sets as a junior, finishing fourth among OVC hitters (will be OVC’s second leading returning hitter).
- Liz Landon, MB, Sr. – Finished season second among league hitters in attack percentage (.352) in league play.
- Hillary Plybon, MB, Sr. – Ranked seventh among OVC blockers with 0.94 blocks per set (30 blocks in 32 league sets) and will enter 2014 as league’s second-leading blocker.
- Aubrey Marsellis, S, Jr. – Ended season playing multiple roles for Austin Peay and was ranked ninth among league hitters with a .309 attack percentage in league play.
Scouting the Opposition
Troy finished with a 13-21 mark last season, including a 7-11 Sun Belt mark, but upset top-seeded champion Western Kentucky to reach the Sun Belt semifinals. Senior outside hitter Marija Zelenovic, an all-tournament selection last season, was named to the Sun Belt Preseason All-Conference Team.
Clemson notched a 15-15 record in 2013, including a 9-10 record to finish 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Tigers return five starters, including sophomore middle blocker Leah Perri, who was a 2013 ACC All-Freshman Team selection.
USC Upstate recorded a 5-23 record last season, but posted four of those wins in Atlantic Sun Conference play (4-14). The Spartans return five starters from that squad, including four starters that posted 200 kills each during the campaign.