Volleyball Begins 2012 Campaign With First Practices
GREENSBORO, N.C. – The UNCG volleyball team began preparations for the 2012 season in earnest Wednesday, holding its first two practices at Fleming Gymnasium.
Head coach Patrick Nicholas, who enters his fourth campaign with the program, welcomes back six starters and nine letterwinners from a 2011 squad that just missed qualifying for the Southern Conference Tournament - finishing 15-17 overall and 7-9 in league play.
"It was a good first day," Nicholas said. "We focused a lot on ball control and went over some basic defensive things. I was happy the setters were able to put in a great amount of work and I was pretty pleased overall."
Nicholas should have a number of weapons to choose from offensively in 2012, as players representing 70 percent of last season's output will again suit up for the Blue and Gold. Junior Karrian Chambers recorded 358 of the 1,464 kills, good for seventh in the SoCon, while classmate Morgan Freeman racked up 210 and lone senior Ari Lysacek contributed 138. Lysacek ran the offense for a majority of the year, tallying 795 assists (7.64 per set).
Defensively, UNCG returns 2011 Southern Conference Libero of the Year in junior Kellie Orewiler who averaged a stellar 5.34 digs per set in SoCon matches – the top mark in league play. She also finished fourth among Southern Conference players in aces per set (0.33).
"The first day of practice was great," Lysacek said. "Everyone came in with a lot of energy and wanted to start off the week really well. We were all excited to get back into the gym and play together."
Supplementing the returners is a tandem of three freshmen, including SMU transfer Julia Westerbur. The College Station, Texas native and middle blocker was named to the AVCA Under Armour Girls' High School All-American Watch List in 2009 and 2010. Nicholas also signed defensive specialist Katherine Santiago, who led her club team VB Rags to the Puerto Rico Junior National Championship, and outside hitter Lauren Betlach - a four-year starter at Seton Catholic Preparatory School in Chandler, Ariz. who led her squad to four-straight state titles.
Spartan fans will be able to catch their first glimpse of the squad Friday, Aug. 17 when it holds its annual Blue-Gold Scrimmage. First serve is slated for 7 p.m. inside Fleming Gymnasium and admission is free.
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