JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 27, 2009) - After three weeks of preseason, the ETSU volleyball team will take the floor for the first time in the 2009 season at the Comfort Inn and Suites Invitational at Morehead State in Morehead, Ky.
The Bucs have back-to-back matches Friday taking on Chattanooga at 1 p.m. and James Madison at 4:30 p.m. ETSU closes out the tournament on Saturday at 2 p.m. against the host Morehead State Eagles.
Coming off of a rebuilding year in 2008, the ETSU volleyball team looks stronger than ever with a very experienced squad coming into the 2009 season. Head coach Lindsey Devine has had a lot of success since taking over the helm for the Buccaneers making four straight Atlantic Sun conference tournament appearances. The 2008 season saw its share of ups and downs, but a first ever A-Sun tournament victory over host Mercer highlighted the Buccaneer campaign.
Devine returns all but three players from last year including six of the seven starters. Seniors Amanda Youell (Middleburg, Fla.) and Kristan Provchy (Norton, Ohio) are looking to make a statement in their final season in an ETSU uniform, while Whitney Cogburn (Kingsport, Tenn.), Erin Ryan (Davie, Fla.), Lauren Baufield (Plymouth, Minn.), Dani Howe (Hermitage, Tenn.) and Desiree Dyck (Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan) all have two years under their belt and have only continued to improve since stepping on campus in 2007. Dyck, who missed the first half of the 2008 season with an injury, hopes to return to the dominance she showed in her freshman year which earned her A-Sun All-Freshman Team honors.
The Bucs will look for contributions from Jen Neice (Allen, Texas), Howe and Baufield in the back row. Neice had a great freshman campaign finishing third in the conference in digs and placed fifth all-time in the ETSU single season record book. She is an energetic defensive leader who is counted on for her consistent passing. Howe will look to improve upon her team leading 40 aces in 2008 as she has developed an outstanding serve, and will be a primary passer and defensive catalyst for the Bucs. Baufield is a very versatile player who is capable of playing several positions. A returning team captain, Baufield's leadership and competitive drive will fuel the ETSU success.
Youell will be quarterbacking the Buccaneer offense, while Cogburn adds depth to the setter position. The pair combined for 1307 assists which was fourth best in the conference. Youell's court perception and ability to spread the offense makes the ETSU attack strong. She also adds an extra threat on the offensive with the ability to attack at any moment.
At the net, the Bucs bring back a very deep group including a pair of A-Sun All-Freshmen selections in McKayla Barber (Columbus, Ind.) and Dyck. Barber had a very strong 2008 season leading the team in blocks. Her athleticism and strong arm make her a go-to middle for the Bucs. Dyck has shown the ability to be one of the best outside hitters in the conference with her dynamic approach and powerful arm swing. Cogburn, a strong left-handed right side, will be another offensive option for the Buccaneers. Because of her versatility, Cogburn will be expected to play all the way around. ETSU also returns middle blocker Jamie Stancliff (Advance, N.C.) and outside hitter Erin Ryan who can put up big numbers for the Bucs. Joining the squad this season are Georgia State transfer Alysa Long (Romulus, Mich.) and freshman Chentel Pate (Nashville, Tenn.). Long's great athleticism and outstanding vertical make her a dangerous player off the bench, while Pate is a true athlete who adds depth to the Buccaneer front row.
The 2009 schedule will test the Bucs early with matches against Chattanooga, Morehead State and 2008 NCAA Tournament participant Liberty. ETSU will also face a round robin conference format for the second straight year and will challenge Florida Gulf Coast, Belmont, Lipscomb and Jacksonville for the A-Sun title.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball and all other athletic news, please visit www.ETSUBucs.com.