JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Aug. 8, 2012) – With the start of the 2012 ETSU volleyball season set to begin in less than three weeks, the Buccaneers opened preseason camp with their first team practice on Wednesday morning inside Brooks Gym.
“The first practices of the season tend to have the players a little nervous, but overall I was pleased with their effort and focus this morning,” said head coach Lindsey Devine. “In our team meeting prior to practice, the coaches and returning players talked about last season and how the team thought we underachieved; despite having a lot of freshmen on the court in key positions. With that being said, the approach to this new season is “Taking care of the unfinished business.”
The Bucs, who made their fifth straight appearance in the Atlantic Sun semifinals in 2011, return eight letterwinners and four starters from last season’s squad. With the Blue and Gold graduating seniors Kiley Tamblyn (Torrance, Calif.), Jamie Stancliff (Advance, N.C.), and McKayla Barber (Columbus, Ind.), Devine and her staff were busy on the recruiting circuit as they brought in five new faces – Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.), Hailey Pennington (Plainfield, Ill.), Jessica Schafer (Dekalb, Ill.), Ashleigh Shain (Geneva, Ill.), and Laura Lawman (Cleveland, Tenn.).
“We have some holes to fill with the graduation of our seniors, so the freshmen have to be ready to play,” said Devine. “These freshmen who have joined our program are more athletic and come in with a high level of volleyball IQ.”
Of the eight letterwinners returning, junior Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) and sophomore Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.) look to build off their all-conference seasons in 2012. Devine, a First Team All-Atlantic Sun and Atlantic Sun All-Tournament Team selection last season, played in all 31 matches and set the ETSU single-season record for kills per set (4.16). In addition, Devine also posted the second highest school marks in kills (503) and attack attempts (1,358), while ranking 34th nationally in kills per set and 54th in points per set (4.51). Meanwhile, Hardy was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman Team, and ranked sixth in the A-Sun (first among freshman) in blocks per set (0.84) and 10th in the A-Sun (third among freshman) in hitting percentage (.246).
Joining Hardy in their second year with the Bucs and looking to build off impressive campaigns are sophomores Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.), Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.), Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.), and Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.), along with senior Kayla Williams (El Paso, Texas). Williams and Rutledge both were among the top-10 leaders in the A-Sun in assists per set, as Williams ranked fourth (9.36) and Rutledge was eighth (8.28).
“We have a lot of returning faces and we will be more experienced this season than we were in 2011,” Devine said. “The core of our returning players are stronger and they also hit some personal records in our physical testing.”
Wednesday marked the first of 20-plus practices for ETSU as the Bucs prepare for their season opener on Friday, Aug. 24 against UNC Asheville in the Gamecock Invitational.
For more information on Buccaneer volleyball, visit www.ETSUBucs.com.