2007 Blue Raider Volleyball Preview
Program looks to build off of 2006 successAugust 20, 2007 · MT Media Relations
Murfreesboro, Tenn. -After an even better season than anticipated, capped by a NCAA first-round upset of Louisville, Blue Raider volleyball is looking to continue building on its 2006 success with Matt Peck at the helm in his fourth season.
"We have high expectations for the 2007 season," Peck said. "On paper, I think we will be very good. We do have some unanswered questions; however, this is the most athletic team I've ever been associated with. We gained some invaluable postseason experience last season, and I'm confident that will come into play this season."
Middle Tennessee only lost two starters from the 2006 season in senior outside hitter Jessica Robinson and redshirt junior outside hitter Victoria Monasterolo. Also lost from last year's lineup are school record holding setter Megan Sumrell and defensive specialist Theresa Slowik.
But the team's top three hitters and blockers and a record setting setter and libero are returning, which gives a promising outlook for the season.
"We have depth at every position for the first time during my short career at MT," Peck said. "I can't tell you how excited I am about that."
The team returns senior middle blocker Quanshell Scott, junior opposite hitter Ashley Adams, junior middle blocker Ashley Asberry, sophomore setter Leslie Clark, and senior libero Alicia Lemau'u. Coming off of the bench, after playing in all 35 matches last season, is sophomore defensive specialist Ashley Waugh.
Adams leads the attack at the net after an unbelievable sophomore season topped off with All-American honors. After earning First Team All-Sun Belt honors, Adams was the second Middle Tennessee athlete to earn Most Valuable Player honors at the Sun Belt Tournament. She accumulated 547 kills, averaging 4.45 per game and a .360 hitting percentage.
But Asberry, a First Team All-Sun Belt selection in 2006, is in control on the defensive side at the net. She set a new single season record for block assists with 167, adding 15 block solos, and she led the Sun Belt last in blocks per game. Asberry also picked up Defensive Player of the Week honors for October 30 last season.
Scott is another force at the net, tallying 310 kills and leading the team with a .363 hitting percentage. Her efforts earned her First Team All-Sun Belt honors and her second All-Tournament Team selection. She was a driving force on defense, earning 34 service aces and 113 total blocks.
Clark had an impressive rookie season, finishing with 1,158 assists and averaging 12.87 per game to lead the Sun Belt and breaking into every top 10 career and single season list for assists at Middle Tennessee.
After two record setting seasons, Lemau'u made the transition to playing middle back and still was effective from that spot, accumulating 492 digs and averaging 4.00 per game. She added 33 service aces and 23 assists as the libero.
Five new faces will make their collegiate debuts this season: freshmen outside hitter Laura Brock (Chattanooga, Tenn./East Ridge HS), setter Alyssa King (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle Township HS), outside hitter Izabela Kozon (Warsaw, Poland/XXIV LO im Cypriana Kamila Norwida), middle blocker Stacy Oladinni (La Verge, Tenn./La Vergne HS), and defensive specialist Rachel Randolph (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Blackman HS).
Brock was named Tennessee Player of the Game in the Hardee's Tennessee-Georgia Classic after an impressive four years at East Ridge High School. She earned state, regional, and tournament honors, and currently holds the state record for career kills and is runner-up for service aces. She earned MVP honors at the state tournament in 2005.
King was named a USAV All-American in 2006 after leading her Club Fusion team to a second place finish in the USAV Junior National Championships. She also earned the Best Setter honor after her team's second place finish at the International Volleyball Tournament in Memory of Victor Filipchenko in Moscow, Russia.
Kozon earned Most Valuable Player honors in 2007 at the Polish Junior National Championship after a third place finish. From 2003 to 2006, she was one of 12 selected to attend N.L.O. Szkola Mistrzostwa Sportowego - Polskiego Zwiazku Pilki Siatkowe (Championship Sport School of the Polish Volleyball Federation).
Oladinni is one of two local newcomers having lettered for four years at LaVergne High School earning All-District MVP, All-County and First Team All-State honors.
Randolph joins the team one year after her older sister, Hannah, finished her career. She lettered for three years at Blackman High School earning First Team All-District.
Middle Tennessee will face off against some of the nation's best in four tournaments and three nonconference single-match competitions. The team's opponents this season have a 62 percent winning percentage and nine had more than 20 wins last season. The Blue Raiders will face 2006 tournament teams Stephen F. Austin, Iowa State, No. 13 Oklahoma, Missouri State, Long Island, Hofstra, and UAB.
"We certainly have a challenging schedule this fall," Peck said. "We are playing seven NCAA Tournament teams from the 2006 season, and five of those teams advanced to at least the second round. Additionally, the play in the Sun Belt has dramatically improved in the three years that I've been here, so potentially we could be challenged every weekend."
Sun Belt Conference play begins on the team's trip to Alabama to face South Alabama and Troy near the end of September. The Blue Raiders will host nine home matches and will be on the road for eight with the season culminating at the Sun Belt Conference Championships hosted by the University of Denver November 15-17.
"Even though we are the defending Sun Belt Champions, we are not going to rest on our laurels," Peck said. "We have much work to do, and one of my goals as a coach has always been to make noticeable improvements every season."
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