JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (July 20, 2004) - With one full year at the helm of the East Tennessee State Lady Bucs volleyball squad, head coach Lindsey Devine propels the rebuilding process into the 2004 season with sights of continued success and victories in the Bucs path. With just one senior headlining the roster this year, Devine will look for incoming freshmen and veteran sophomore and junior competitors to help continue the precedented success surrounding the ETSU program.
The lone senior, Karen Freeburg, enters the 2004 season after a solid performance last year for the Lady Bucs. Her tally of 319 digs, averaging 3.29 per game, was a team-high in 2003. Freeburg's 244 kills and selection to the All-Tournament Team competing at Virginia Tech University's Hokie Classic in late August, helped lead Devine's squad to the Southern Conference Championship Tournament, and a home winning percentage of .555 for the year.
"Karen is a very competitive individual who will continue to be a key player both offensively and defensively throughout the year. Her expectation level is high and she demands a lot from her teammates which makes her an outstanding leader as the lone senior this year," Devine said.
- JUNIORS -
This year's junior class will feature two returnees and one transfer student-athlete who will form the core of the 2004 veteran class. Kristi Robinson and Sara Scandiffio return from the 2003 squad having both posted strong numbers during their sophomore campaigns, while Katie Longden, a transfer student-athlete from Iowa Central Community College joins the ETSU squad after a successful community college career.
The Lady Bucs setter, Robinson's 11.26 assists per game tally ranks third-best in the ETSU all-time record books and is a season-high since 1999. In addition her 1,227 assists last season rank her third-best in single-season school history while she continues to climb the career charts. One of two Bucs seeing action in all 109 games last season, Robinson came within single digits of breaking numerous ETSU assist records while her standout setting performance led ETSU to a new school record for kills in a three-game match with 62 versus UT-Chattanooga on Oct. 21.
"Whenever Kristi steps out onto the court her level of play and leadership steps to the next level," Devine had to say. "With her increased confidence at the setter position, Kristi will be ready to take on the challenge of guiding the team to success."
Scandiffio returns having posted 54.0 total blocks at the net for ETSU last year, the top in that category for those returning to Devine's 2004 squad. She managed to post double-digit kill totals five times last season, including 17 in an ETSU win over Elon in early November. Her 20 aces from the service stripe were a solid addition to the Lady Bucs offense, while continually posing a defensive threat at the net for the Bucs.
When asked about Scandiffio, Devine had to say, "Sara has the ability to change the tempo and outcome of any competition. She is a gifted athlete who will continue to improve throughout the year."
- SOPHOMORES -
The sophomore class holds the highest number of student-athletes for the Lady Bucs having six of the team's 12 members. Returnees Kelsey Sherich, Natalie Pittenger, Jennifer Sartor, Andrea Piercy and Lauren Madzia will be joined by transfer Brittany Kessel building the tradition of success for the Bucs volleyball squad under the direction of Devine.
At the outside hitter position, Sherich posted the team's strongest offensive performance with her 290 kills en route to a 3.02 kills per game average during her freshman campaign. More impressive were her 14 double-digit kill tallies, six of which were for 15 or more kills including team-high's with 23 versus Furman in October and 18 versus Davidson in early November. Also aiding on the defensive end, Sherich managed 21.0 total blocks on the year, including five block solos and 16 assist blocks. During her sophomore season, look for Sherich to continue to build on her 2003 success as her collegiate experience continues. When asked about Sherich, Devine said, "Kelsey will be a huge force offensively for the team this season. She worked extremely hard on her mental game and with heightened confidence she will continue to post outstanding results this fall."
Pittenger was a walk-on for the Lady Bucs during the 2003 season seeing the majority of her time at the libero position. Her 3.01 digs per game and total digs tally of 280 were both team second-bests for the year, while she managed a team-high 30 digs versus Western Carolina in an exciting five-game ETSU conference victory. Pittenger also managed to set a new school record for digs in a three-game match with 28 versus UT-Chattanooga on Oct. 21. Playing in 93 games for coach Devine, Pittenger posted double-digit dig totals 13 times during 2003.
"Natalie is extremely important to the execution of our offensive attack as the libero and defensive specialist for our team," Devine said. "She reads the ball very well and has improved her range defensively during the spring and summer training sessions."
Another solid performer was Sartor, who during her freshman campaign posted solid numbers at the right side hitter position. In 89 appearances she managed 152 kills, 47 assists and 16 aces while adding 61.0 total blocks for the season. Able to perform at the setter position as well, Sartor posted 24 assists versus Indiana State in early September while blasting five kills and 11 digs for the match.
"Jen is a very hardworking individual who raised her level of play throughout her freshman year. She demands a great deal from herself and will be a powerful force for the team as a middle hitter this fall," Devine had to say.
With 51 appearances during the 2003 season, Piercy posted 44 kills, 97 digs with a 1.90 digs per game average at the outside and right side hitter positions for ETSU. In a thrilling five-game ETSU victory over conference foe UNC Greensboro in early October, Piercy managed a season-high 14 kills adding 11 digs for the match. She also had a season-high dig total with 16 versus Wofford Oct. 19, having managed double-digit dig totals four times throughout her freshman campaign.
"Andrea made great strides throughout the spring and summer training sessions improving on both her offensive and defensive skills. I admire her passion to be the best player she can be," Devine said.
Rounding out the returning sophomores will be Madzia who saw limited action in 2003, however she will bring division-one competitive experience to the floor for the Bucs in 2004. In 15 appearances, she pounded down 14 kills, two aces and 7.0 total blocks for the year.
- NEWCOMERS -
This year's newcomer class will feature four student-athletes who will bring strong talent and experience to the floor for coach Devine and the Lady Bucs squad. Longden, Kessel, Michelle Mislan and Callie Kiselich will all bring a competitive spirit and quality talent to the court for ETSU during the 2004 season.
Longden was a two-year starter for Iowa Central Community College where she was a 2003 First Team All-Region Honorable Mention accolades playing at the middle hitter position. As a sophomore at Iowa Central, Longden tallied 228 total blocks, a .275 hitting percentage, 2.542 kills per game average and 391 kills while adding 38 service aces to complete her impressive numbers for ICCC.
Kessel joins the ETSU squad a transfer student-athlete after competing for Kent State University during the 2003 season. For the Golden Flashes, Kessel managed a .353 hitting percentage, with seven kills and four blocks, while adding 38 assists in 42 games for the year.
Mislan was a three-year letterwinner under coach Kathy Nally-Schembra at Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Ind. having competed the majority of her time at the right side hitter position. An academic all-state honorable mention in 2003, member of the French Club, National Honor Society and Pro-Life Club's, Mislan also competed for the Circle City Club Volleyball team, one of the top club organizations in the mid-west.
Adding depth at the middle hitter position will be Kiselich who won four letters competing for Rampart High School where she posted 243 kills, 73 total blocks, 217 digs and a hitting percentage of .420 during her senior campaign. An honorable mention member of the 2003 all-state squad, Kiselich will aid the offensive and defensive ends of the court for the Lady Bucs this season.
"Our newcomers for the 2004 season bring great levels of experience, confidence and skill to the floor for the Lady Bucs. With two transfer competitors, and two incoming freshman with solid club experience, look for our four newcomers to have a big impact on the court throughout the season," Devine said.
- 2004 SCHEDULE -
This season's schedule will feature three highly competitive tournaments for the Lady Bucs where they will face some of the toughest competition in the history of the program. Big-10 powerhouse Purdue, and other notable opponents in Kentucky, Iowa State, North Carolina State, Auburn and Central Michigan University will all highlight the 2004 schedule.
Playing their first 10 matches on the road this season, look for ETSU to return to the friendly confines of Brooks Gymnasium in late September opening conference play against Appalachian State and Western Carolina. The Bucs will welcome UT-Chattanooga, The Citadel and College of Charleston during October, while also traveling to face Elon, Furman and Wofford as well.
On the road this season, the Lady Bucs will visit UNC Asheville, Georgia State and Radford in mid-season non-conference action before returning home to host UNC Greensboro and Elon in late November.
"Throughout our 2004 schedule we will face quality competition who will force our team to play at our highest level. Hard work and preparation will continue to be a priority for our 2004 squad"
ETSU Head Coach, Lindsey Devine