Trojans to Rely on Depth and Versatility this SeasonAugust 7, 2012
ANDERSON, S.C. – The 2012 edition of Anderson University volleyball will again be young, but youthful experience may be one way to describe the Trojans for the upcoming campaign.
Trojan fans will undoubtedly be familiar with this year’s Black and Gold, as fourth-year head coach Craig Mosqueda’s roster will feature 11 returning letterwinners, including eight sophomores, one junior and two seniors, along with four newcomers who are expected to vie for playing time.
Eight of the returning letterwinners saw significant playing time during the 2011 campaign and four have already made their mark in the school record books.
The team boasts proven academic prowess, with an impressive nine team members named to the SAC Commissioner’s Honor Roll last year, and earned AVCA Team Academic honors during the offseason. AU will look to match that academic success with on-the-court achievement as well.
“We will be very versatile and have the flexibility to move players around to different positions and go with different looks, depending on who’s playing well,” said Mosqueda. “And we will be better both offensively and defensively”
Mosqueda believes he has the right mix of leadership, proven contributors and incoming talent to compete in the South Atlantic Conference.
“Losing Marlie (Bryant) was substantial because she provided a defensive spark when we needed it and because of her leadership,” added Mosqueda. “We want to take the growth we had over the spring, assimilate our newcomers and have a more successful year than we did last year. I thought we were competitive with a lot of teams last year, but we needed time to grow and realize our potential. Last season, we played a lot of freshmen and as a result we had more mistakes than we would’ve liked.”
Mosqueda will rely on Meghan Cautero (So., 5-9, S) to set the table for her teammates this season after the sophomore saw action in all 30 matches during her rookie season a year ago. She already ranks in the top ten in the school record books in career assists after just one season, dishing out 753 assists, which was good enough for fourth place in assists per set (7.68) in Trojan volleyball history. The Naples, Fla. native recorded at least 30 digs on seven occasions last season, while notching three double-doubles.
“Meghan did a great job of putting the ball where we needed it in the spring,” noted Mosqueda. “This year we will have the option of moving Kalie (Endres) into that spot, as well as Kelley (Lacey) when we need to.”
Standout Tiffany Rowe (Sr., 6-3, MB) returns for her senior season and is expected to anchor the middle defensively after leading the team in blocks each of the past two seasons. One of the most accomplished blockers in Anderson history, Rowe ranked 26th in the nation in blocks per set (1.14) last year, while equaling the seventh-highest single-season block tally with 112 last year. She notched a staggering 13 total blocks versus Mars Hill in late October and entering her final season, the native of Myrtle Beach is poised to move even higher in the AU record books.
Quality depth and versatility is a luxury Coach Mosqueda possesses this season, with another formidable sophomore, Hailey Pittman (So., 5-10, MB), in the middle. Pittman was third on the team with 137 kills last season and posted 27 total blocks. She ripped 12 service aces and led the team in attack percentage, posting a season-best .467 attack percentage at Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 22.
“Hailey, who had a great spring as well, may be better offensively,” added Mosqueda. “Cameron Ohls (Fr., 5-11, MB) has the potential to see some playing time as well and Victoria (Wehrmann) (Fr., 6-0, OH) could also move to the middle if we need her there.”
Shannon Gillespie (So., 5-10, OH) is a sophomore who brings tremendous athletic ability to the outside position and in 2011, the Fishers, Ind. native asserted herself as one of the most powerful offensive weapons on the team, finishing first on the team with 312 kills, 26 service aces and ranked third on the team with 278 digs. Gillespie erupted to lead the Trojans in kills nine times, while reaching double-figure kills on 16 occasions and posted 12 double-doubles on the season.
Joining Gillespie on the outside will be the squad’s lone junior, Joy Hiller (Jr., 6-0, OH/RH). A native of Greenville, S.C., Hiller was second on the team with 142 kills, leading the Trojans with a season-high 14 kills versus Flagler and 13 versus Lenoir-Rhyne, while rightside hitter Kelley Lacey (So., 5-9, RS), a sophomore from Farmland, Ind. will also see action on the outside. Lacey played in 29 matches, posting 136 digs, 95 kills and 18 assists on the season and was fourth on the team with 11 service aces.
“Experience and depth will be our strengths outside. We will be able to go four or five players deep there,” said Mosqueda. “Shannon will be a key both offensively and defensively. During the spring she was just as effective from the backrow as the front offensively. Priscilla Irizarry (Fr., 6-0, OH/RS) will probably be on the right and Kelly can also play rightside.”
Another pair of sophomore leaders, Alix Hooker (So., 5-6, DS/L) and Kalie Endres (So., 5-6, DS/L) will be patrolling the backcourt again this season and Mosqueda again enjoys the flexibility of being able to switch players listed as liberos and defensive specialists on the roster. Endres ranked eighth in the league with nearly 400 digs last season, while seeing action in 28 matches, while Hooker ranked second on the squad with more than 300 digs to her credit.
“We have several options defensively,” added Mosqueda. “Kalie and Alix both did a great job of keeping the ball alive in the spring. If the need arises, we could move Kelley to libero as well.”
The Trojans host an Alumni Match on Saturday, August 18, before opening the 2012 regular season on the road at Limestone’s College Classic, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, squaring off against Southern Wesleyan, Brenau and Limestone.