GREENSBORO, N.C. – The 2011 UNCG volleyball season officially kicked off on Wednesday as the team returned to the court for its first practice of the season.
"Practice went very well," said senior outside hitter Ariel Newman. "We worked on defense. Our freshmen and newcomers did very well this morning. We have six returnees and they also did very well. Practice was very intense and we had a lot of communication this morning, which coach really loved."
The Spartans, who went 22-12 overall and 9-7 in the Southern Conference last season, return just six players from that squad after five players departed due to graduation. This year's team will return four starters in middle blocker Olivia Humphries, setter Ari Lysacek, outside hitter Ariel Newman and libero Kellie Orewiler. Orewiler was a SoCon All-Freshman Team selection a year ago.
The new-look Spartans this year will bring in seven newcomers, six freshmen and a sophomore transfer. Morgan Freeman will come to UNCG after spending her freshman seeing at Connecticut, while Chelsea Evans, Vicky Harley, Holland Hoefnagel, Emily McMurtrey, Brittany Morris and Kelsey Sidney will be seeing their first collegiate action this fall.
"During preseason (this year) we really need to work on our communication and our work ethic because we are a strong team," said Newman. "We are coming off a strong season last year and we want to keep (that) rolling and make it to the Southern Conference and actually win that title this season."
"Our expectations are very high," said Newman. "All we could talk about (this offseason) was our incomers and how great they were, and we're expecting them to be great and we're expecting our returners to be even greater. Our expectations are above the bar actually."
UNCG will host its Blue-Gold scrimmage on Aug. 20 at 5 p.m. in Fleming Gymnasium. Fans are encouraged to attend as admission is free all season.
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