Volleyball Season Outlook
Meredith Matthews is back for her third season as the Head Coach of the Golden Tigers and will have seniors on the roster for the first time. There are nine players returning from a year ago, and eight of them started at one time or another. Matthews has an outstanding group of freshmen to go with the returners, so there is optimism in the camp for the first winning season in the history of Brenau volleyball.
All three returning seniors are SSAC All-Conference performers , including Setter Audra VanArsdale (Pelham, AL), who has been selected All SSAC for the past two seasons and led the team with 476 assists last year while serving as team captain. Outside Hitter Karen Green (Lawrenceville) averaged 17 kills per match and racked up 213 for the year. The other senior returner is Libero Maida Smajic (Lawrenceville) who was an all conference selection in 2006 and had 360 digs and 454 serve receptions for a 92% effectiveness. Those three will serve as team captains for this year's squad.
The junior class is led by Middle Hitter and Blocker Meredith Hardin (Cartersville), who ranked second in the SSAC last year with 109 blocks and added 101 kills. Ellijay product Courtney Frady, an outside hitter is back for her third season after an injury plaqued sophomore year. The sophomores include Kelsey Aley (Tallahassee, FL), who had 129 kills and 82 blocks last year; Alexis Arthur (Aiken, SC), an Outside Hitter who recorded 119 kills and 117 digs in 2008; Defensive Specialist Kerry Abernathy (Celebration, FL); and Middle Blocker Beth Hays (Fayetteville).
The freshman class is loaded with talent and will push for playing time right away. Woodstock HS product Melissa Thornton, an Outside Hitter, plays for A-5 which is one of the most prominent Junior Olympic clubs in Georgia. Danelle Russell (Cartersville) is a powerful hitter who has extensive club experience. Mekenna Cipres (Murieta, CA) plays year round with club teams in California. Macy Baugh (Hull) is a middle hitter with promise, as is Defensive Specialist Patricia Passos (Celebration, FL).
"The talent, conditioning, and smarts are in place and if we develop team unity and give the younger players some experience, we should be very competitive in the SSAC this year," said Coach Matthews. "Along with some much needed early wins should come the mental toughness we need to compete."