Buccaneers open 2017 at Catamount Volleyball Classic this weekend

Buccaneers open 2017 at Catamount Volleyball Classic this weekend

Friday, August 25
**CATAMOUNT VOLLEYBALL CLASSIC**
Charleston Southern at Western Carolina
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
6:30 p.m. - ESPN3

Saturday, August 26
**CATAMOUNT VOLLEYBALL CLASSIC**
Charleston Southern vs. Jacksonville State
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
10 a.m.

**CATAMOUNT VOLLEYBALL CLASSIC**
Charleston Southern vs. Towson
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
4 p.m.

PREVIEW
Charleston Southern opens the 2017 season at a familiar place this weekend as the Buccaneers make the trip to the Ramsey Activity Center and Western Carolina University for the Catamount Volleyball Classic. It's the second consecutive season the Bucs have made the trip to the Catamounts to open the season after starting 2016 with three matches in Cullowhee.

CSU opens the weekend with a match against tournament host Western Carolina on Friday night scheduled to be streamed live via ESPN3 at 6:30 p.m. The Bucs close out the weekend with a doubleheader on Saturday taking on Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. and Towson at 4 p.m.

The Buccaneers are coming off of a 13-20 season which includes an 8-8 mark in Big South Conference play. The Buccaneers return 11 players from last year's squad that advanced back to the postseason for the second consecutive season in 2016. The Bucs lost outside hitter Connor Malone and defensive specialist Taylor Allman to graduation, but CSU returns a strong core featuring All-Conference libero Madison Martin and Big South Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year middle blocker Kylie Klein.

CSU opens the 2017 season with Western Carolina. CSU fell to the Catamounts last season in a tough five-set match after the Bucs took an early 3-2 lead. The Catamounts lost just three student-athletes off its 2016 squad including just one starter from a team that went 11-19 last season and 6-10 in SoCon play. The 2017 squad returns six of its seven starters and welcomes in six newcomers who will all try and make an immediate impact on the team. Seniors Jo-Leigh VerVeldeKatie O'ConnorGabby EdmondsonKaycey Cermin and Reeve Reinsborough will look to lead the way as the Catamounts begin the quest for the 2017 Southern Conference Championship which will be hosted in Cullowhee inside the Ramsey Center in November.

Saturday morning in the brunch matchup, CSU will take on Jacksonville State at 10 a.m. The Bucs took their match with the Gamecocks last season at the Bash in the Boro hosted by Georgia Southern behind 18 kills and nine blocks from Brooke Monssen. The Gamecocks return a bevy of talent to the roster in 2017 led by Preseason OVC All-Conference selection Mackenzie Rombach. Also among the returning leaders are senior outsides Charis Ludtke and Allyson Zuhlke, and senior libero Hannah Kirk. The Gamecocks went 18-19 overall last season, 6-10 in OVC play.

CSU closes out the weekend against Towson. The Tigers are led by the CAA Preseason Player of the Year as junior right side hitter Jocelyn Kuilan garnered the honors in the 2017 season. Towson, which is coming off a season in which it went 24-9 and advanced to the CAA Semifinals, was selected fourth in the CAA Preseason Poll voted on by the league's head coaches. Towson returns nine letter-winners from a year ago.

BUCCANEER NOTES
MARTIN NAMED PRESEASON ALL-BIG SOUTH

Junior libero Madison Martin was named to the 2017 Preseason All-Conference team. The Bucs' libero earned First Team recognition following the 2016 season and became CSU's first player to be named to the Big South First Team since Amanda Hill (2010) after leading the conference in total digs (665), digs per set (5.04), total digs in conference matches (357), and digs per set in conference play (5.33). The Birmingham, Mich. native shattered CSU's single-season digs mark set last year by Ashley Higginbothem (603, 2015).

BUCS EARN AVCA TEAM ACADEMIC AWARD
CSU earned the AVCA Team Academic Award for the fifth straight season as the Bucs posted a team GPA of 3.66 during the 2016-17 season. Rising senior middle blocker Kylie Klein was named the 2016-17 Big South Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The Buccaneers were one of a record-setting 822 men's and women's volleyball teams (across all divisions), breaking the previous year's total of 764 to set an all-time high. The Bucs were one of five Big South programs on the list joining fellow members Campbell, Gardner-Webb, Liberty, and Radford among those recognized with the award.

HITTING THE ROAD AGAIN
The Buccaneers will be on the road a majority of August and September once again as CSU hits the tournament circuit this weekend. CSU will be away from the Buccaneer Field House for 14 of their first 16 matches as the Bucs travel to the Catamount Volleyball Classic, the UAB Blazer Invitational, the Phoenix Classic, and the Bulldog Invitational. The Bucs also will travel to College of Charleston (Aug. 29) and Presbyterian (Sept. 19) during the stretch. CSU's lone home games come on September 5 (S.C. State) and September 12 (Savannah State).

CHASING 1,000
Madison Martin could become just the 10th Charleston Southern volleyball player in program history to reach 1,000 career digs this weekend as the Bucs prepare to open 2017 at the Catamount Volleyball Classic. The Birmingham, Mich. native enters the weekend with 934 career digs, sitting just 66 shy of achieving the career mark. She earned Conference Defensive Player of the Week honors twice and recorded four of the Big South's nine 30-plus dig matches in 2016. Martin also tied the CSU single match record with 36 digs in the Bucs' four-set win over Radford.

BLOCK PARTY
The reigning Big South Volleyball Scholar-Athlete of the Year, Kylie Klein returns for her senior season in the middle of the Buccaneers' lineup after pacing CSU and finishing second in the conference in total blocks. Klein averaged 0.99 blocks per set on her way to racking up 127 on the season to pace CSU in the middle as the Bucs finished 41st in the NCAA in team total blocks on the season. Klein also finished third on the team with 216 kills, providing an offensive weapon in the CSU rotation. Fellow middle blocker Caitlyn Michalski has a double-digit block match to her credit, recording 10 last season in CSU's win over Jacksonville State.

SPOTTING UP FROM OUTSIDE
The Buccaneers are loaded outside heading into the 2017 season as CSU returns their top three hitters from the 2016 season including All-Freshman selection Brooke Monssen. Monssen earned All-Freshman honors after finishing among the conference leaders in kills (2.58 kps) and blocks (0.98 bps). Also returning is the Bucs' leading hitter, junior outside Addison Kaderli. The Austin, Texas native led CSU with 2.68 kills per set and added 10 double-doubles on the year. Fellow junior Hannah Western was arguably one of the best all-around players for CSU in 2016 finishing fourth on the team in kills and third in total digs.

BUCCANEERS ADD THREE
Three newcomers will be battling for playing time in the CSU rotation this season. Freshmen Kalysia Bates (MB), Skylar Blackmon (DS), and Deona Mims (OH/RS) will all look to work their way into making an impact with the Bucs in 2017.

SETTING UP FOR SUCCESS
Sophomore setter Rachel Smith earned All-Freshman honors on her way to finishing fourth in the Big South in assists and assists per set in the 2016 season. The Euclid, Ohio native recorded a season-high 49 assists on October 11 at UNC Asheville during a stretch that saw her record 40-plus assists on five different occasions. Smith is currently 157 assists away from becoming the 10th player in CSU history to reach 1,000 career assists.

FOLLOW CSU ON SOCIAL MEDIA
There are several ways to follow Charleston Southern Athletics and the CSU Volleyball team on social Media. For information, pictures, and in-match updates, follow @CSUSports and @CSUGameDay. To follow the Volleyball team, follow @CSU_Volleyball. Follow us also on Instagram at @CSUBucs and @CharlestonSouthernVB

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