Volleyball Set to Begin 2014 Campaign at Bellarmine ClassicSeptember 4, 2014
ANDERSON, S.C. – With a veteran squad that features 10 returning letterwinners, including five seniors, the Anderson University volleyball team is set to open the 2014 season at the Bellarmine Volleyball Classic, hosted by Bellarmine University Friday and Saturday at Knights Hall.
Including this weekend’s three matches in the Derby City, the Trojans begin the campaign with an eight-match road swing, as AU visits another region known for horses, when the Trojans travel to Aiken, S.C. for the Aiken Invitational, Sept. 12-13, for four contests.
Head coach Craig Mosqueda, in his sixth season at the helm of the AU program, faces the task of replacing former standout setter Meghan Cautero, but returns five starters in addition to a pair of returners who combined to start 35 matches from last year’s team that earned the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament victory. The veterans on the roster have played a combined 500 matches over the past three seasons, with the seniors capturing 40 victories over their career with the Black and Gold.
A trio of returning seniors garnered Preseason All-South Atlantic Conference honors in mid-August, with outside hitter Shannon Gillespie and middle blocker Hailey Pittman collecting first-team accolades, while libero Alix Hooker garnered second-team recognition.
Gillespie, an All-Southeast Region performer last season, needs just 18 kills to move past former standout Leanna Willis (2005-07) into sixth place in the school record books for career kills, while Pittman is 98 kills shy of moving into AU’s top-10 for career kills. Defensively, Hooker already stands seventh in AU’s career record books with 1,524 digs and will move into the sixth spot with her 120th dig this season.
Anderson opens this weekend’s event by facing the host Knights Friday at 7 p.m., then squares off against Salem International on Saturday at 10 a.m. AU closes out the tournament with a 5 p.m. matchup versus Mercyhurst.
The Knights, guided by second-year head coach Jenni Grzebin, were a preseason pick to finish fourth in the East Division of the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) this season. Bellarmine is looking to build on last season’s success, which saw the Knights post a 15-14 record and advance to the GLVC tournament. Standout libero Jaclyn Ohlmann, the only senior on a young roster which features one junior, three sophomores and eight freshmen, enters this season as the Knights' career leader with 1,647 digs and was the GLVC's Libero of the Year a season ago.
This fall marks Salem International’s first season of NCAA Division II action as members of the Great Midwest Athletic Conference (G-MAC), as volleyball makes a return to Salem International after a six-year hiatus. Head Coach Chris Weber’s Tigers were tabbed to finish eighth in the G-MAC preseason poll.
The Lakers, who notched an 18-14 overall record last season, including a 12-10 mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), were a preseason selection to claim fifth in the Western Division of the PSAC this year.
Mercyhurst returns several players at key positions this season, with junior middle blocker Lexi Stefanov returning after earning All-PSAC Second Team accolades a season ago. The Stow, Ohio, native paced the Lakers with 273 kills and was second on the team with 314.5 points, a .272 hitting percentage, and 73 total blocks. Additionally, the team's top three setters all return in 2014, with Kelly Vitt, Tai Lattimore, and Hannah Tombaugh expected to share the role again. Vitt, a junior, dished out 657 assists last season, while Lattimore, a senior, posted 544 assists.