CHARLESTON, S.C. - Youth will lead the way for the 2014 Charleston Southern Volleyball team as the Buccaneers look ahead to their second season under Head Coach Christy Mooberry.
With one senior on the roster and five newcomers added to the fold, Mooberry and her squad will look to a strong junior class to help push the Buccaneers over the top and back into the postseason.
"We have a bit more depth than we had last year," said Mooberry. "I believe that will help us. It has already been beneficial in preseason."
The junior class, headlined by middle blocker Meredith Parrott, along with outside hitter Siraya Windsor, right side hitter Katrina Houston, setter Cassidy Greer and redshirt junior libero Ashley Higginbothem, has been starters for the Buccaneers since their first day with the program, and the quintet will again look to make an impact on the roster for the Bucs.
"This is a solid junior class returning and I'm excited about the leadership, intensity, and skill they bring to the court," Mooberry commented. "This is a group that has goals and is being intentional about reaching them."
Senior setter Kirsten Struksnes and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Allman also return to the floor for the Bucs, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Connor Malone will see her first regular season action with CSU after a strong spring semester with the Bucs.
Mooberry will look to blend into the mix a strong freshmen class that features a middle blocker, an outside hitter, a right side hitter, a setter and a defensive specialist.
"This freshmen class is hungry to contribute and they work hard every day," Moobery said. "We emphasize attitude and effort and these girls have embraced and run with those priorities."
Charleston Southern opens up the 2014 season on the road at the James Madison Invitational this weekend with first serve coming on August 29th against Villanova at 5 p.m. in Harrisonburg, Va. CSU hosts the College of Charleston in the Bucs' home opener on September 9, with first serve inside the Buc Dome set for 7 p.m.
Parrott and Malone headline the returners up the middle for the Bucs this season, with Parrott returning after a sophomore campaign that saw the 6-0 middle blocker average 2.00 kills per set and 0.75 blocks per set on the season in earning Big South All-Academic honors. Malone is looking to build off of a standout spring after the middle blocker transferred from Northern State-Aberdeen.
Freshman Kylie Klein will make her first appearance inside the Buc Dome at middle blocker this season as well. Klein joins the roster from Highlands Ranch, Colo. and Mountain Vista High School where she earned All-Conference honors while serving as a multi-sport athlete with the Falcons.
Windsor, Houston and Allman all return to reprise one of the deeper units on the CSU volleyball squad as the trio saw significant playing time last season on the outside.
Houston led the Bucs in kills per set at 2.60, while Windsor finished close behind at 2.28. Windsor and Houston also finished 1-2 in the team rankings in service aces with Windsor picking up 30, while Houston had 23 on the year. Allman displayed her versatility on the court, seeing time at both outside hitter and libero, where she finished in averaging 1.65 digs per set, while accumulating 15 blocks on the season.
Amanda Metz and Liza Walker will also line up to compete outside with the Bucs on the season. Metz comes to CSU from Otsego, Mich. and Otsego High School where she was a four-time All-Conference and All-County selection with the Knights. Walker joins the Bucs after earning All-Region and All-Area honors at Fort Mill High School, as well as being a three-time Offensive Player of the Year during her career.
Greer and Struksnes provide Mooberry a set of experienced hands to run the Bucs offense this season. Greer took over as the primary setter in the 2013 season, seeing action in all 29 matches and earning 26 starts where she led the team in averaging 8.12 assists per set. She also finished third on the team with 46 blocks and averaged 1.60 digs from the floor. Struksnes also provides an experienced hand for Mooberry at the offense, with four 50-plus set assist matches to her career during her time with the Buccaneers.
Brooke Green will also see time at setter for the Bucs in her freshman season after coming to CSU from Orlando, Fla. and The First Academy. She was a key part of the two-time Royals' 3A State Championship squad and earned AVCA 3A Region Player of the Year honors in her senior season.
Higginbothem and Taylor Marin will line up on the back row for the Bucs in the 2014 season
Higginbothem is ready to reprise her role as one of the top players in the Big South Conference after missing the 2013 season due to injury. In her last season of action, the redshirt junior led the team with 427 digs, averaging 3.56 digs per set and was one of four CSU players to play at least 120 sets in the season.
Marin, a Phoenix, Ariz., native, lined up at libero at Paradise Valley High School. She was a four-year letter winner and starter with the Trojans, earning All-State honors twice in her career.
The return of the Charleston Southern Invitational highlights 14 home matches the Buccaneers will host inside the Buc Dome in the 2014 season as Head Coach Christy Mooberry announced the release of the 2014 volleyball schedule on Tuesday afternoon.
Highlighting the schedule is the Charleston Southern Invitational as the Buccaneers will host Jacksonville, South Carolina State, North Carolina Central and USC Upstate over the two day weekend. Also visiting the Buc Dome in the 2014 season includes home matches against local rival College of Charleston and Big South showdowns against Presbyterian, Winthrop, Coastal Carolina, Liberty, Radford, High Point and Campbell.