VALDOSTA, Ga. – The preseason is over and the regular season finally starts for Valdosta State Volleyball. This weekend the Blazers will face Converse at 11 a.m. and Florida Tech at 7 p.m. Friday then Lander at 11 a.m. and Coastal Georgia at 7 p.m. Saturday to start the 2012 season.
Despite being chosen fourth in the preseason by the Gulf South Conference coaches, the Blazers are set to make some noise in the GSC this season.
Freshman of the Year Ashley Lala returns to set while Hope Ripsam should see quite a bit of time as well. The team, however, is led by the senior class: outside hitter Katie Onushko, middle blocker Tania Tauiliili and liberos Chelsea Luttfring and Jennifer Bryant.
“It’s been fun to see the progress of the senior class,” said Head Coach Sia Poyer. “They’ve really taken control of the team this year. Every group is special, but this one is really special to me because they’ve all played so long here.”
The group leads what could be the most talented VSU volleyball team in some time. In addition to those already listed, middle blocker Destiny Berry and libero Krista Bradford should definitely help the team in their sophomore season. In fact, Poyer listed Bradford along with Lala, Luttfring, Onushko and Tauiliili as players that have had a great preseason.
Valdosta State clearly returns a number of talented players, but freshman hitters Nikki McDaniel and Kelsey Kovar could also help the team in their first seasons in collegiate volleyball.
“Kelsey has been very good in preseason. I’m pleased with both her and Nikki,” Poyer said. “They can both do it all: serve, receive, hit. We’ve given them a lot of responsibility early, but they’re up for the challenge. They’re fearless.”
Joining the two fresh faced outsides will be Lelalelei Nomura, a redshirt freshman that worked out with the team last season. With a year in the program under her belt, she could be a strong contributor in her first season of action.
Poyer is also excited about seeing improvement at the middle blocker position. He has experience and talent at the spot with Tauiliili and a young up and comer in Berry. Joining the crew in the middle this season will be sophomore Lauren Aikens.
Another factor that should benefit the blocking is the coaching of graduate assistant coach Jordana Price. She was a middle blocker at Florida State and is doing her best to share her knowledge with this VSU squad.
The group starts the season at 11 a.m. Friday with a match against Converse followed by one against Florida Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday the Blazers will face Lander at 11 a.m. and Coastal Georgia at 7 p.m. Don’t miss out on the action.