CHARLESTON, S.C. - Two days from first serve as the Charleston Southern volleyball team continues their preparations for the 2015 season under the leadership of head coach Christy Mooberry as the Buccaneers look to open the season on Friday afternoon at the Big Orange Bash hosted by Clemson.
The Bucs return nine members from last year's squad, including Big South All-Academic selection Meredith Parrott and fellow seniors Cassidy Greer, Siraya Windsor, Katrina Houston and Ashley Higginbothem.
CSU enters the season looking to build on the success it enjoyed in 2014, as the Bucs posted a winning record in non-conference play behind top performances by Parrott, Greer, Windsor and junior Taylor Allman.
The Bucs open the season on the road on August 28-29 at the Clemson Tournament. They will take on Appalachian State, tournament host, Clemson, and UNC Wilmington over the weekend at the Jervey Athletic Center.
Meredith Parrott and Kylie Klein both return for CSU as the Bucs' twin towers in the middle of the offense.
Parrott ranked among the Big South leaders in hitting percentage, kills and points per game last season. She finished sixth overall in hitting percentage (.291), fifth in kills per set (3.34) and fourth in points per game (3.88). She delivered one of her best performances of the season on October 24th, recording 20 kills in CSU's four set win over UNC Asheville. At the net, she also had some of her best defensive performances in Big South play with seven blocks against High Point and six against Campbell.
Klein started 32 of 33 matches for the Bucs as a true freshman. The Highlands Ranch, Colo. native was fourth on the team in kills and third in hitting percentage, providing Parrott a helping hand at the net with 0.61 blocks per game.
"Meredith is a skilled and effective middle," said CSU head coach Christy Mooberry. "I trust her to make herself available and be effective in system and out. She forces the opponent to consider her no matter the pass. Kylie has solid confidence and thrives in competitive environments, so I'm excited to see how she performs this weekend moving into her sophomore year."
Senior Siraya Windsor returns to lead the Bucs' outside hitting corps in the 2015 season.
Windsor continued her standout play in 2014, earning All-Tournament honors in three preseason tournaments including The Citadel Invitational, Wingate Invitational and UC Invitational. The Lexington, S.C. native showed off her all-around skills throughout the season, finishing second on the team in both kills and digs. She also led the Bucs in service aces and posted a team-high 15 double-doubles.
Kaderli came to the Bucs by way of Austin, Texas where she helped the Austin Performance club team to a fifth place finish overall at the 2014 Junior Nationals. Western joins the Bucs squad after being on the AVCA National Freshman, Sophomore and Junior Phenom watch list. The St. Louis, Mo. native was named to the USVA First Team National Division Team and the 2014 Nike Tournament Championship First Team.
"Thankfully we have significantly more depth to this position this year," said Mooberry. "Siraya has grown significantly in her ability to see the court and has added a handful of shots to her skill set which will help her to be more successful. Addy and Hannah are also both competing well for the other outside position, each bringing different strengths."
Right Side Hitter
Katrina Houston and redshirt junior Connor Malone return to the lead the Bucs' right side hitters.
Houston rebounded from an early season injury to finish third on the team in kills and fifth on the team in hitting percentage. The rising senior showcased her jumping ability with 40 total blocks in the season and finished the year with double-digit kills in nine different matches. She saved one of her best performances for the season with 16 kills and 16 digs in the Bucs' win over UNC Asheville on October 24.
Malone ended up fifth on the team in kills, averaging 1.07 kills per set in her first season with the Buccaneers. The redshirt junior ended up sitting among the Big South leaders in hitting percentage in conference play for a majority of the season, hitting .253 overall.
Also joining the Bucs on the right side is freshman Krista Kuglin. Kuglin, a Minnetonka, Minn. native, was a three-sport athlete in high school and showcased her athletic ability in track and basketball, as well as volleyball.
"There are so many strengths for us in this position," commented Mooberry. "Katrina can hit a solid ball, sees the court well and has a significant repertoire of shots. Her size is deceiving; she jumps exceptionally well and puts up a solid block. Connor adds a big block to the right side. She has the highest block touch on the team and we are looking to see improvement on her already solid kill efficiency from last season. Right now Krista is working on getting back to a healthy 100%, but I'm excited to see what she can do when she gets to that point."
Cassidy Greer and Brooke Green both return to set up the CSU offense in 2015. Greer is looking to continue her march up the Buccaneers' record books in her final season in the CSU Blue and Gold.
Greer finished seventh in the Big South in assists per game in 2014 with 8.73, and came up big for the Bucs with two matches with at least 55 assists. She recorded 55 assists in the Bucs' win over UNC Asheville and added 52 assists on September 5 against Stetson. She also showcased her defensive ability, finishing fourth on the team in digs while notching six double-doubles.
Green saw action in 18 matches as a true freshman, and earned one start. She recorded eight assists on two separate occasions, including eight in the September 23 win over Savannah State. She recorded one of her best matches of the season on November 1 against Winthrop, tallying eight assists and eight digs. Green will provide depth for the Bucs' offense.
Freshman Madison Martin could also see time at the setter role, coming to CSU from Birmingham, Mich. where she lined up at Seaholm High School as a defensive specialist and libero. She averaged 3.7 digs per set in earning All-League and All-Region honors.
"Each of these players brings different strengths to this position," said Mooberry. "As we move forward in the season, I look forward to seeing them continue to challenge each other and see the growth results because of the competition. Madi was originally recruited as a DS and we asked her to train as a setter as well. Her improvement as she took on that challenge has been impressive. She brings contagious energy to the court and her defensive range is so solid. Madi's defense and energy she brings to the court is a huge positive. After having a year under her belt, Brooke has gotten better at understanding and executing our offensive system. Her defense has also improved. Cassidy adds significant experience to the court and continues to grow in being a more offensive setter as well as defensively."
Ashley Higginbothem returns to the libero role in the 2015 season and looks to continue to move up the CSU record books as the redshirt senior could potentially enter the top-three in CSU history in career digs. Bouncing back from an injury in the 2014 season, Higginbothem posted double-digit dig performances in 15 different matches, including a season-high 24 digs in the Bucs' season finale against Campbell. Two seasons prior, in 2012, Higginbothem finished ninth in the Big South in digs per set at 3.56 and has posted 10 matches with at least 20 digs in her career.
Taylor Allman made the transition to libero in the 2014 season and finished eighth in the Big South in digs per game at 4.21. The rising junior set the mark for most digs in a match in the Big South on September 26 against Presbyterian with 36. In her freshman season, she again showcased her defensive ability in averaging 1.65 digs per set. She will provide depth to the CSU defensive backline in the 2015 season
Martin could also see time at both defensive specialist.
"Our defensive players are without a doubt a huge strength and source of leadership for us," commented Mooberry. "All three of these athletes lead by example in competitiveness, work ethic, communication, and relentless pursuit."
Trips to South Carolina and Clemson, and a cross-country trip to the Grand Canyon highlight the Bucs' 2015 slate.
CSU will travel to road tournaments hosted by Clemson, Elon, Grand Canyon University and South Carolina to open 2015. CSU's 2015 home slate includes Big South matches against Campbell, High Point, UNC Asheville, Gardner-Webb, Presbyterian, Winthrop and Coastal Carolina.