VSU Volleyball Announces 2014 Schedule, Recruits

| July 25, 2014
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Source: Valdosta State University Athletics

VALDOSTA, GA – The Valdosta State volleyball program is primed for a big fall season with the announcement of the 2014 schedule and some exciting additions to the roster for the upcoming campaign.

With Mike Swan, the reigning Gulf South Conference Coach of the Year, at the helm, the Blazers will break in the newly renovated hardwood of The Complex with a busy opening day that will feature two separate contests. Volleyball fans will have the opportunity to watch two matches with the purchase of just one ticket on opening day, as the squad will open up against Albany State at 3:30 p.m. before rounding out the day with a 6:00 p.m. contest against the Fighting Knights of Lynn University.

Following the opening matchups for the Blazers, the campaign quickly kicks into high gear with 26 scheduled matches over the course of the next two months, before the regular season closes out in early November to make way for the Gulf South Conference Tournament.

Stakes are high during a regular season schedule that features dual contests – one at home and one on the road – against each of Valdosta State’s GSC foes, as the top team at the conclusion of the regular season will serve as the host for the 2014 GSC Championship Tournament.

Mississippi College represents the newest addition to the league contingent, and although the team will be required to participate in two seasons of regular season action before they are eligible for postseason play, matches that feature the Choctaws will count toward the GSC rankings during the regular season.

Conference play gets underway on September 12 in Cleveland, Tenn. against the Flames of Lee University. 11 straight GSC matches follow before a break in league play in mid-October that will feature a home contest against Rollins College on October 14, and a two-day, four-match tournament on October 17 and 18 at Florida Southern in Lakeland, Fla.. GSC play is set to resume with eight more conference contests to close out the season, beginning with a home match on October 21 against the defending GSC Champion West Florida Argonauts.

Aiming to build on a strong regular season in 2013, the squad will look to five new roster additions that are expected to boost the Blazers’ offensive attack during the fall season.

Nicole HigginsEmily Matio, and Julie Masonheimer bring an upgraded presence at the net for the red and black with each of the three players standing at 6’0″ or taller. Higgins joins the squad as a First Team All-Conference middle blocker from Hillsborough Community College, while Matio, a freshman from Indiana, adds another option at the middle blocker position. Standing at 6’0″, Masonheimer is another newcomer who is expected to balance time at both the middle and outside hitter position.

“I think we have addressed areas we really wanted to with this recruiting class. We knew we needed to improve our blocking and service receive, as well as add more offense to our lineup,” said Swan. “With the addition of Nicole, Emily and Julie, we now have three players that stand over six feet tall. Each is able to play multiple positions on the front row, so I expect it to be very challenging for playing time in the middle and on the right side this fall.”

In addition to the height factor that these three new Blazers bring to the court, Swan expressed his anticipation for other strengths that these student-athletes will add to the squad.

“They bring not only size, but strength and quickness,” Swan stated. “Nicole has proven success at the collegiate level, while Emily came from a top program in Indiana which is exceptional in the sport. Julie can do more than just hit. She was also a setter on her high school team.”

Improvements on the passing front were addressed with the addition of Sydney Chick, a Leon High graduate out of Tallahassee, Fla.. The defensive specialist finished her high school career as the Leon High Athlete of the Year, and was named the team’s Most Valuable Player in each of her four letter-winning seasons.

“Sydney is a natural athlete,” said Swan. “She is very strong physically and will improve our first ball contacts dramatically. We were fortunate to find her so late in the recruiting season, and she will really push our other defensive specialists. Her competitive spirit is infectious.”

Lea Jaklyn rounds out the new class as an international recruit out of Germany. The junior transfer is a versatile outside hitter that will provide depth in several key areas.

“A talented six rotation player, Lea will give us another option on the left side,” stated Swan. “She is aggressive, is a skilled passer, and reads really well on defense. I love her demeanor, because she is fiery on the court and doesn’t like to lose. It’s great to add another international player to our roster as well.”

With the departure of graduate assistant Jordana Price, Swan is pleased to announce Ondrej Mican as the newest member of the Blazer volleyball coaching staff. Mican, an honor graduate and member of the Limestone College volleyball squad from 2010-13, brings a wealth of volleyball knowledge to the staff to go along with experience as a student mentor and tutor during his time at Limestone.

“I am very pleased to add Ondrej to my staff,” said Swan when speaking of Mican, a Czech Republic native. “He was an outside hitter and primary passer in college, and I was looking for someone with experience in both of those areas. I like his maturity and enthusiasm, and I’m confident that he will be a huge asset to our program. We are also hoping that his connections abroad will be of benefit to our international recruiting efforts.”

Source: Valdosta State University

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