Volleyball Preview: Bucs take on Villanova, James Madison and Norfolk State at the JMU Classic

Volleyball Preview: Bucs take on Villanova, James Madison and Norfolk State at the JMU Classic

CHARLESTON, S.C. - Charleston Southern Volleyball opens up the 2014 season on the road this weekend, traveling to Harrisonburg, Va., to take on Villanova, host James Madison and Norfolk State in the JMU Classic.

The Bucs will open the season on Friday night against Villanova inside Sinclair Gymnasium with first serve set for 6 p.m. CSU will close out the opening weekend on Saturday against James Madison (12:30 p.m.) and Norfolk State (5 p.m.).

Live Stats for all three matches will be provided on JMUSports.com.

CSU Volleyball Tournament Notes

Series History...
Charleston Southern is 0-2 against James Madison since the 2000 season.

2004   9/3       vs. JMU (Charlotte, N.C.)                          L, 0-3
2007   9/14     at JMU (Harrisonburg, Va.)                     L, 0-3

CSU is 1-0 against Norfolk State since the 2000 season.

2003   9/6       vs. Norfolk St. (Princess Anne, Md.)    W, 3-0

This is the first time CSU will face off against Villanova.

Scouting the Tournament Field...
Tournament host James Madison was picked second in the Colonial Athletic Association field this season and return every starter from a squad that went 8-6 in the conference to advance to the CAA Tournament for the fourth consecutive season. Senior middle blocker Lizzy Briones and sophomore rightside hitter Janey Goodman were both named to the CAA Preseason All-Conference team. Briones is one of the top blockers in the CAA, entering her senior season with 345 total blocks after a monster junior year where she notched 154 blocks (1.39 per set). An All-CAA second team and All-Rookie selection last season, Goodman is poised for another solid year for the Dukes. She led her team with 327 kills and 2.95 kills per set average as a freshman last fall.

Villanova, the Bucs opponent in the 2014 season opener, was tabbed seventh in the Big East Preseason Coaches' Poll after receving 29 votes in the poll. The Wildcats return 13 letterwinners from the 2013 squad and five starters from last seson in their eighth year under Head Coach Josh Steinbach. Junior outside hitter Lauren Carpenter returns after leading the way for Villanova after averaging 3.49 kills per set and a .213 hitting percentage on the year. Junior setter Emma Pettit also returns after a standout season which saw her average 10.38 assists per set on the year.

Norfolk State was selected to finisih fifth in the MEAC Northern Division in the 2014 Preseason Coaches Poll. The Spartans received 81 points in the voting after finishing 7-5 overall last season in the conference. Junior outside hitter Jessica Johnson returns as the program's leading hitter after a 2013 campaign which saw her average 2.14 kills per set, while hitting at a .095 clip. Junior setter Darcy Moore also returns for the Spartans after averaging 9.41 assists per set, while libero Noelle Eagles led the team with a 3.66 digs per set average.

Scouting the Bucs...
With one senior on the roster and five newcomers added to the fold, Head Coach Christy Mooberry and her squad will look to a strong junior class to help push the Buccaneers over the top and back into the postseason.

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 look to again make an impact on the roster for the Bucs.

Senior setter Kirsten Struksnes and sophomore outside hitter Taylor Allman also return to the floor for the Bucs on the season, while redshirt sophomore middle blocker Connor Malone will see her first regular season action with CSU after a strong spring semester with the Bucs.

Player Watch...
Meredith Parrott, Jr., Middle Blocker/Outside Hitter
Parrott enters the season as the most decorated player on the current CSU roster, earning 2012 Big South All-Freshman Team honors, as well as 2013 Big South All-Academic honors. The 6-0 middle blocker from Mobile, Ala. averaged 1.99 kills per set last season, and returns as the team leader after hitting .231 from the floor last year. Parrott also returns as the team's blocking leader with 0.72 blocks per set on the season.

Siraya Windsor, Jr., Outside Hitter
One of the more talented two-way players to come through Charleston Southern in recent history, Windsor has continued to showcase her hard work throughout the summer after averaging 2.33 kills per set, 2.50 digs per set and 35 service aces on the year to pace the Charleston Southern effort.

A New Season...
Since the 2000 season, the Buccaneers have gone 4-10 overall in their season openers. CSU's last season opening win came in 2009 when the Buccaneers topped Davidson at the Wildcat Classic on August 28. The Bucs topped the Wildcats 3-1 in the match. CSU's longest winning streak in the home opener came in the 2005-06 season where the Bucs topped Robert Morris or Savannah State in back-to-back years.

Wingate Invitational...
After a one year hiatus, the Buccaneers will return to hosting the 2014 Wingate Invitational at Charleston Southern from September 12-13 inside the Buc Dome. Live stats and game information is available at CSUsports.com

Dates/Times for the Wingate Invitational
Sept. 12            Jacksonville vs. N.C. Central           noon
                           CSU vs. Jacksonville                           2 p.m.
                           USC Upstate vs. N.C. Central           4 p.m.
                           CSU vs. S.C. State                                 6 p.m.

Sept. 13            USC Upstate vs. S.C. State                9 a.m.
                          CSU vs. N.C. Central                            11 a.m.
                           Jacksonville vs. S.C. State                 1 p.m.
                          USC Upstate vs. CSU                           3 p.m.

Homegrown...
The Bucs have three players from the state of South Carolina on the 2014 roster with Siraya Windsor (Lexington), Liza Walker (Fort Mill) and Taylor Allman (Little River), all representing the Palmetto State.

Getting to Know You...
The Buccaneers welcomed six new players to the Charleston Southern roster this season.

Middle Blocker: Connor Malone,  Kylie Klein
Outside Hitter: Amanda Metz, Liza Walker
Setter: Brooke Green
Libero: Taylor Marin

Northern Border...
Charleston Southern senior setter Kirsten Struksnes is the lone international player on the CSU roster in the 2014 season, coming to the Bucs from Calgary, Alberta. During her time with the Bucs, Struksnes is sitting seventh all-time among the career leaders with 1,363 career set assists. Highlights from her playing career include four 50-plus set assist matches, including two back-to-back on Oct. 9, 2012 at The Citadel (55 assists) and Oct. 12 vs. Liberty (56 assists).

Tournament Run last season...
Last season the Buccaneers went 4-8 overall over the four tournament weekends they played before getting into conference play. The Bucs went 0-3 in the Davidson Tournament, 1-2 in the Jacksonville Tournament, 2-1 at the Citadel Invitational and 1-2 at the Georgia Southern Tournament. CSU posted wins over Mississippi Valley State, The Citadel, S.C. State and Jackson State.

Welcome to the Bucs...
CSU welcomed new assistant coach Lauren Comfort to the CSU staff this past January, coming to the Bucs by way of Trevecca Nazarene in Nashville, Tenn. During her time with the Trojans', she assisted in all areas of the program. Her playing days saw Comfort standout at Olivet Nazarene Unversity where she led the team to a 124-49 overall record and 41-2 in conference play, where she finished with 1,516 career digs and 169 aces.

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