A&T Opens Season at Holiday Inn Classic
GREENSBORO – The North Carolina A&T volleyball team has quite the journey before they open the season at the Holiday Inn Classic hosted by Indiana State. Ten hours and roughly 630 miles stands in the way between the Aggies who open the tournament on Friday, Aug. 29 against Chicago State at 9 a.m. at ISU Arena.
N.C. A&T Tournament Schedule:
Friday, Aug. 29 9 a.m. vs. Chicago State
Friday, Aug. 29 5 p.m. vs. Wright State
Saturday, Aug. 30 10 a.m.vs. Akron
Saturday, Aug. 30 7 p.m. vs. Indiana State
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- The Aggies will look to win their first season-opener since defeating Savannah State, 3-0 on Sept. 3, 2004.
- Junior Aleena McDaniel, an Indianapolis, Ind. native will be playing a little over a hour from her hometown beginning on Friday.
About N.C. A&T: The Aggies are coming off their most successful season under fourth-year head coach Hal Clifton. A&T, who was picked to finish second in the southern division, placed second last season with a 6-4 mark in conference. The Aggies return all of their top players from a team that went 7-25 last season. Co-captain Aleena McDaniel led A&T in kills (280) and was second in digs (256). Junior outside hitter Brooke Stamnes added 261 kills last season and led the Aggies in aces (36). Completing the front row will be junior middle blocker Te'Borah Hawkins-Hollingsworth who tallied 58 blocks in 2013. Sophomore Liz Martino returns to set the Aggies up after she recorded 602 assists in her rookie outing. Co-captain Ashley Johnson will be A&T’s defensive backbone as the junior libero tabbed 388 digs to cap off the 2013 season. Jasmine Jones, Jillian Nobles, Jade Boone, and T'keyah Davis each made considerable impacts for the Aggies last season as they added more depth this season with Samara Brown, Jasmine Lindor, Tatyana Gibbs, Marteen Hill, and Jeana Daniels.
About Chicago State: The Cougars are coming off a 2-29 overall record in 2013 and were winless (0-16) in the WAC. Chicago State who underwent a coaching change in May also lost its top four players offensively who accounted for 1,041 of CSU’s 1,172 kills. The Cougars will also have to replace setter Mackenize Lotter who tallied 969 assists in 2013. Returning for the Cougars is sophomore and Raleigh, N.C. native Chinwendu Ngwadom who started all 31 matches last season and recorded 99 kills. Ngwadom also led the Cougars in blocks (69). Senior libero Julia Menhart returns with a team-leading 332 digs and 31 aces. Despite losing the majority of its team after the 2013 season, CSU signed eight players in its 2014 recruiting class.
About Wright State: The Raiders finished the 2013 season with a 6-26 record and were 0-14 in the Horizon League. Wright State resembles Chicago State closely in the manner that it has lost its top three offensive players from the 2013 season. Sophomore Haley Garr had a solid freshman outing where she was fourth on the team in kills (176). Garr also led the Raiders in service aces (25) and blocks (76). Sophomore setter and defensive specialist Miranda Puthoff returns after leading Wright State in digs (347) and was second on the team in assists (415). The Raiders signed six players in their 2014 recruiting class.
About Akron: The Zips posted an 8-19 record and 2-14 mark in the Mid-American Conference last year. A veteran core of returning players are highlighted by middle blockers Mary Delich and Kelsey Wilson, and setter Ashley Holder. Wilson led the Zips with 67 blocks and Holder finished the season with a team-high 550 assists. Also returning for Akron is sophomore outside hitter Julia Smagacz who was second on the team in kills (124) .The Zips’ key losses include Alex Cocklin who led the team in kills (289) in 2013 and Jill Paluch who headed them in digs (431). Akron welcomed four newcomers to the program including three freshmen and a junior college transfer.
About Indiana State: Indiana State welcomes back four starters from a Sycamore squad that finished 13-17 (6-12 MVC) last season. The Sycamores' attack will be powered by the trio of hitters that tallied over 200 kills apiece in 2013, including sophomore outside hitter Bree Spangler (244 kills, 186 digs, 21 blocks), junior middle blocker Cassandra Willis (240 kills, 90 blocks) and senior middle blocker Kyla Thomas (201 kills, 91 blocks). Junior outside hitter Victoria Swigart (170 kills, 37 blocks) will also add to the battalion at the net , while junior setter Ericka Nord, who shared time at the setter position last season, also returns to the floor. ISU ‘s impressive 2014 recruiting class includes five players that received honorable mention accolades from PrepVolleyball.com as one of the top recruiting classes in the nation.