North Carolina A&T (0-0) at Radford Tournament
Dates: Aug. 30 vs. Radford, 6:30 p.m.; Aug. 31 vs. Kennesaw State, 12:30 p.m.; Aug. 31 vs. Eastern Kentucky, 3:30 p.m.
Facility: Dedmon Center
Aggies Overview: The Aggies are eager to open the season in order to show off the program’s improvement. They will get their chance on Friday when they open at Radford at 6:30 p.m. They come into the season on a two-match winning streak and their six freshmen are now sophomores. Sophomore Brooke Stamnes will likely get most of the sets this season, but Te’Borah Hawkins-Hollingsworth also has star potential in the middle. From the right side, the Aggies will turn to another sophomore, Aleena McDaniel. The trio should be the key to the Aggies offensively, while sophomore Ashley Johnson will be looked upon to provide the digs for the Aggies defensively. She had 25 or more digs four times last season.
Tournament Overview: Radford was 16-16 overall and 6-8 in the Big South. One of those wins came against the Aggies on Oct. 9, 2012. Junior Emma Deininger had 10 kills and a .643 hitting percentage. Senior Emily Carlin added nine kills and sophomore Nicole Lambert had five total blocks. All three players and 6-foot plus. Kennesaw State went 16-17 overall and 5-13 in the Atlantic Sun. The Owls return 10 letterwinners, including libero Camille Pedraza, who led the team in total digs with 613. They also return setter Sara Metroka. She had more than 1,000 assists last season. They are under first-year head coach Keith Schunzel. Eastern Kentucky went 9-19 overall and 5-11 in the Ohio Valley Conference. EKU returns nine letterwinners, including five starters. Their two biggest offensive threats – Ashley Edmond and Alexis Plagens – return to the Colonels’ lineup. Edmond and Plagens combined for more than 600 kills in 2012.
Potential Star: It will be interesting to see how well the Aggies offense functions with freshman setter Liz Martino. If she gets off to a good start, it could mean good things for the Aggies in 2013.
News & Notes:
Tatianna Cooper will likely play in her first match since Nov. 6, 2011. She had 133 kills as a freshman. Her return could give the Aggies a lift offensively.
Libero Ashley Johnson earned first-team All-MEAC honors in 2012. She became the first Aggie to earn All-MEAC honors since Avignon Williams did it in 2007.
The last time the Aggies beat a non-HBCU team was a three-set win over the U.S. Naval Academy on Sept. 9, 2006.
From the Coach
“The preseason has been real good. Our returners are working hard and our newcomers are on board with everything we’re doing. There is a lot of competition in our gym. We have players pushing each other to do better.”
A&T head volleyball coach Hal Clifton