JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - (August 26, 2015) - The East Tennessee State University volleyball team will open its 2015 season with a non-conference tournament co-hosted by Virginia Tech and Radford Friday and Saturday. ETSU, which finished 2014 with a 17-16 overall record and an 11-5 mark in league play, will face off against Virginia Tech (Aug. 28), Washington State (Aug. 29) and LIU Brooklyn (Aug. 29) in the tournament.
Scouting the Buccaneers
The 2015 edition of the Buccaneers will have a different look to it than in years past as it lost six players to graduation following last season. Despite the losses, Head Coach Lindsey Devine brought in seven new recruits in offseason to fill the void.
Even with the losses from last season, ETSU has some experienced players returning this fall. Senior Khadijiah Wiley (Columbus, Ga.) leads the group of returnees after finishing her junior campaign fourth on the team with 237 kills and second in blocks with 117. In addition to Wiley, who was named to Preseason All-SoCon Team last week, the Buccaneers bring back setter Kristen Favre (Plano, Texas) and outside hitter Rylee Milhorn (Kingsport, Tenn.). Favre led the team with 799 assists and was second in service aces (33), while Milhorn finished 2014 in the top five among ETSU players in kills (5th, 227), assists (4th, 12), blocks (5th, 53), digs (2nd, 260) and service aces (4th, 21).
Scouting the Opponents
Virginia Tech: Virginia Tech finished the 2014 campaign with a 17-14 record overall and an 10-8 mark in ACC action. The Hokies return three starters and four additional letterwinners from their 2014 squad. Among the returnees are All-ACC performer Lindsey Owens, who posted 400 kills last season, and the team’s leader in blocks, Ashley Battle.
Washington State: Despite finishing last season 10-22, the Cougars are optimistic heading into 2015 as Head Coach Jen Greeny has put together the No. 17 best recruiting class from 2013-15 according to PrepVolleyball.com. WSU, which only has one senior on its roster, returns its leader in kills and service aces (Kyra Holt), assists (Haley McDonald) and digs (Kate Sommer).
LIU Brooklyn: The Blackbirds have been one of the most consistent teams in Division I volleyball over the past handful of years after making three consecutive appearnces in the NCAA Tournament. However, LIU Brooklyn will be under new leadership this season as Ken Ko takes over for Kyle Robinson who took an assistant coaching position at Oklahoma. Despite the loss of Coach Robinson, the Blackbirds have plenty of experience returning with eight upperclassmen who have a record of 73-23 in their careers.
Opening the season out right...
The Buccaneers have an all-time record of 17-18 in season-opening matches, including a 2-1 mark in the last three seasons.
ETSU was a much better team when it won first sets of matches last season as it posted a 15-3 mark when it won the first stanza as opposed to 3-13 when it did not.
Putting up a blockade
Senior Khadijiah Wiley already ranks in the top five all-time at ETSU in total blocks (5th, 365) and block assists (3rd, 316). Wiley has notched at least 115 total blocks in each of her three prior seasons in the blue and gold. The Columbus, Ga. native also needs just 10 more denials to move into sole possession of third place on the all-time blocks list.
This season ETSU will try to acommplish something that it has only done one other time during its history and that is have a winning record for four consecutive seasons. The only other time the team did that it reeled off seven straight winning campaigns from 1987-1993.
Lucky No. 13
Coach Devine is set to to begin her 13th season at the helm of the Buccaneers’ program. Devine has a career record of 204-179 and is the all-time winningest coach in ETSU history.
Series History vs. Opponents
Virginia Tech holds a 12-2 advantage over Buccaneers in the all-time series, including a 7-0 mark in Blacksburg. The last meeting between the schools was won by the Hokies in 2008, 3-0 and ETSU’s last victory in the series came by a 3-1 score during the 1993 season.
The matchups against Washington State and LIU Brooklyn will both be the first ever meetings between the respective schools.