CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Aug. 28, 2014) – The ETSU volleyball team opens the 2014 season on Friday as the Bucs head to the Queen City for the Charlotte Invitational.
The Bucs open the tournament against Morgan State on Friday morning at 9 a.m., while taking on Sacramento State at 5 p.m. On Saturday, the Blue and Gold face the host 49ers at noon. All three matches will be played inside Halton Arena.
ABOUT THE BUCS
ETSU returns 12 players from last year’s team that went 22-9, 16-2 in Atlantic Sun Conference play.
The Bucs won the Atlantic Sun regular season championship in their final year in the league as ETSU moved to the Southern Conference on July 1, 2014.
The Blue and Gold return a lot of experience from last year’s team as ETSU’s 2014 roster features six seniors, three juniors, three sophomores and one freshman.
The combination of seniors Meredith Hardy (Kingsport, Tenn.), Katie Muey (Alexandria, Ind.), Jamie Rutledge (Kingsport, Tenn.), Ivey Rice (Johnson City, Tenn.) and Bethany Gesell (High Point, N.C.) have combined for 2,520 kills, 3,090 assists, 2,682 digs, and 980 blocks in their first three seasons with the Bucs. Hardy enters the season with 950 kills and is the current A-Sun all-time record holder for blocks with 474. Rutledge has compiled 2,803 assists, Rice has posted 830 kills and 673 digs in 97 career matches, Muey – an all-conference selection in 2013 – has registered 1,162 digs and Gesell has posted 610 kills and 206 digs.
Joining Hardy at the net is junior middle blocker Khadijah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) as she ranked second behind her teammate in blocks per set (1.11) last season. Wiley recorded 191 kills and 133 total blocks for the Blue and Gold in 2013.
ETSU only lost one player from last year’s roster but Megan Devine (Kingsport, Tenn.) will go down as one of the best players in program history. Devine broke both the A-Sun and ETSU all-time kills mark with 1,940, and also was named 2012 A-Sun Player of the Year, 2010 A-Sun Freshman of the Year, and was a three-time first team all-conference performer. Devine is now playing professionally overseas in Sweden.
ABOUT MORGAN STATE
Morgan State went 12-13, 7-5 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) in 2013.
The Lady Bears were picked fifth in the preseason coaches’ poll and return seven letterwinners/five starters from last year’s squad. Morgan State’s 2014 roster also features six newcomers.
Last season, Morgan State ranked second in the MEAC in opponent hitting percentage (.179), while Samantha Prescott – who led the Lady Bears in kills (258) and digs (260) in 2013 – returns for a junior season.
ABOUT SACRAMENTO STATE
Sacramento State posted a 15-16, 10-10 (Big Sky) mark in 2013.
Ten of the 16 players on the Hornets 2014 roster are newcomers, including program-record eight freshmen. The six returning players consists of two juniors and four sophomores.
Sacramento State finished with an average of 12.33 kills per set and a .230 hitting percentage last season. The Hornets hitting percentage was the best mark in seven years, and tied for the fourth-best mark since the program joined the Division I ranks in 1991. The Hornets also ranked among the top 50 teams in the nation in serving (1.44 aces per set). Despite the low number of returners, the six that are back in the Green and Gold combined for 64 percent of the team's kills from a year ago (922 kills).
The Hornets were picked to finish eighth in the Big Sky Conference.
The 49ers open a new era this weekend as Gokhan Yilmaz begins his first season at the helm of Charlotte volleyball.
Charlotte went 12-17, 2-12 in Conference USA a year ago and returns eight players (five starters) from that squad.
Three of the five Niners who posted triple-digit kills last season return, which includes sophomore Claire Kreuz, who put down 253 kills a season ago while registering a team-high 27 service aces. Sarah McDonald and Savannah Gaster are the other two coming back into 2014 posting 173 and 126 kills, respectively.
The 49ers were picked to finish 12th in the C-USA Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Live stats will be available for all three matches, while live video will be offered for Saturday’s match against Charlotte. The video is free of charge.
Click here to access the tournament central page for live stats and live video.
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ETSU is coming off back-to-back 20-plus win seasons, while its 16 conference wins last year set a program record.
The Bucs captured their sixth regular season conference championship in 2013 (Atlantic Sun) and return to the Southern Conference after spending the last nine years in the A-Sun.
Meredith Hardy enters the season needing 50 kills to record No. 1,000 for her career, while Jamie Rutledge is 197 assists shy of career No. 3,000. Fellow senior Ivey Rice is also 170 kills away from joining the 1,000-kill club.
In 2013, ETSU ranked 19th nationally in blocks (2.77), 45th in hitting percentage (.247), and 47th in winning percentage (.710). Individually, Hardy was 10th nationally in blocks per set (1.52) and Rutledge was 52nd in assists per set (10.79).
Hardy was named to the Preseason All-SoCon Team, while ETSU was picked to finish third. Hardy has also recorded at least one block in 93 straight matches for the Bucs.
Click here to purchase 2014 ETSU volleyball season tickets or call 423-439-3878.
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