posted on August 26, 2011 19:35
The University of Mobile Volleyball Team will head into the 2011 season looking to return to the NAIA National Tournament after failing to qualify last year for the first time in four seasons.
Mobile will rely on many newcomers as they compete in the Southern States Athletic Conference for the second year.
“The SSAC is a tough conference, and we are excited to challenge ourselves with great competition,” Head Coach Jon Campbell said.
Leading the returning players will be lone senior Melody Tenney, who enters the season 839 assists away from becoming the school’s all-time assist leader.
“Being our only senior and one of the team’s setters, we are looking for Melody to really step up and be a leader on and off the court,” Campbell said. “She will have to develop good chemistry with our new hitters and middles right away for us to be successful.”
Transfer sophomore setter, Reagin Boggs, comes to UM from University of West Georgia where she set her freshman year. Coaches are excited about the addition because she is fundamentally sound in the dynamics of setting, one of the most difficult skills in volleyball. Boggs spent her club years playing for A5, a national powerhouse volleyball club out of Atlanta, Ga.
On the outside will be a largely new group of players, as the lone returner is Taylor Houseknecht, who showed promise and will work to find her place in the lineup.
Redshirt freshman, Lisa Alms, will enter the season with a great chance at earning court time. After recovering from shoulder surgery, Alms brings an explosive vertical and a powerful swing. Coaches anticipate that Lisa will compete for immediate playing time.
Kiara Gay joins the ranks as a transfer junior from Pensacola State College. Originally from Wakulla High School in Crawfordville, Fl, Kiara brings a well-rounded game. Her quickness is hard to match, and her explosive play is fun to watch. Both coaches believe she will do well in the offense because she is quick to the ball, and she springs off the ground.
“Your outsides are normally your go-to players, and with such an inexperienced group, playing time is up for grabs,” Campbell said. “We hope to see a player step into an immediate impact role and become a game changer.”
The middle blockers also lack experience, with Disah Kolassiba being the only returning player. The 6-0 sophomore finished the 2010 season with 121 kills and 76 blocks.
Freshman, Sara Van Wert, adds height and vertical to the middle position. At 6-0, she is a great jumper, similar to Kolassiba.
“Disah showed a lot of ability as a freshman and we look for her to be an impact player in the middle and lead the incoming players. Sara is raw talent, but tremendous potential. With hard work, her only limit is the sky,” Campbell said.
Captaining the defense will be sophomore Katy McCollister, who was named SSAC West All-Division last year after compiling 386 digs and serving up 21 aces.
Battling Katy for the libero jersey will be freshmen Alicia Pena and Alison Kenney. Alicia is a scrappy and aggressive defensive player from California. She will add solid ball control to the team, but more importantly, she is coachable and adaptable. Coaches see her earning a spot in the lineup with her athleticism and work ethic. Kenney joins the team from Huntsville, AL. Alison has been well-coached, and will bring good ball control and a fantastic serve. With training as a backup setter, her utility could prove invaluable to the roster.
“Winning teams have a number of impact players, and Katy McCollister is one of those players,” Campbell said.
Awaiting the team will be 38 matches, starting with a pair of home matches Aug. 27 versus Southeastern University and Talladega College, and ending with a home match versus Tougaloo Nov. 7 to cap regular season play.
The Lady Rams will continue their home-and-away series with West Florida, battle Shorter and Lee in the SSAC Cross-Over Tournament Sept. 16-17 at Spring Hill, and battle Taylor University and SCAD at the SCAD Tournament Oct. 14-15.
“You have to play tough teams to prep for postseason play, and we are definitely doing that,” Campbell said. “The SSAC Cross-Over Tournament will be helpful by introducing us to the teams we will go up against in the SSAC Tournament.”