By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus NEW HAVEN (BASN) —...
HBCU Volleyball Update
College volleyball action is just around the corner as well. Today, we’ll take a close and in-depth look at the preseason honors for the ladies of the MEAC, SWAC, and CIAA.
The MEAC volleyball preseason poll is out and UMES is at the top of the list. The Lady Hawks posted a 24-4 record last year and finished 10-0 in conference play.
The outlook for second year head coach Don Metil looks promising, as he returns six starters including the 2007 MEAC Player of the Year Whitney Johnson and three other All-MEAC players.
Johnson ranked in the top three in the league in kills, hitting percentage and points. According to the 2008 MEAC Volleyball Predicted Order of Finish, as voted on by the leagues head coaches and sports information directors, UMES came in first in the northern division, followed by Morgan State, Delaware State, Howard and Hampton.
“The preseason poll voting does not always take into account players lost and players gained,” said Metil. “It is an honor, but our focus is on the season. By the looks of all the teams’ rosters, everyone did a great job recruiting. We’re going to have to be prepared to play if we want to repeat our 10-0 record.”
The Lady Hawks will be road tested this season with a schedule that boasts only five home matches. It will begin Friday, August 29 at the Virginia Tech Hokie Invite at 7 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va.
The first home matches will tell whether the undefeated conference record will continue to hold with Morgan State on Friday, October 3 at 7 p.m. and much anticipated Delaware State on Sunday, October 5 at 3 p.m.
The SWAC has announced its 2008 preseason volleyball honors, with Alabama A&M teammates Brittani Lewis and Rose Corneille claiming top honors. The team was voted on by the schools’ coaches and sports information contacts.
Lewis — a 6-foot senior middle hitter from Cedar Hill, Tx. — was named 2008 Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 2007 conference tournament title. Lewis led the conference in kills (3.83 per game) and points (4.80) while finishing ninth in service aces (0.40 per game).
She ended the season with 36 aces, 34 solo blocks and 66 total blocks. Known as a versatile all-around player, she also had 196 digs and 20 assists in 89 games last season. She registered double-digit kills in all but five matches and had a streak of 16 matches with a service ace.
In 2007, she was named first-team all-conference and Most Outstanding Performer of the 2007 SWAC Volleyball Championship as she tallied 88 kills, 11 assists, five aces, 57 digs and 17 total blocks.
Tabbed as the 2008 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year, Corneille — a 5-foot-4 sophomore defensive specialist/setter from Dacula, Ga. — was a key figure in the Bulldogs’ run to a conference tournament title.
As a freshman, she was second in the conference in digs averaging 3.84 per game. She also registered eight kills, 30 assists and three service aces. She had seven consecutive matches with at least 10 digs and tallied at least 20 digs in four matches.
In the predicted order of finish, Alabama A&M and Grambling State were picked to win their respective divisions after meeting in the tournament final last season.
In 2007, Alabama A&M returned to the top of the conference after a one-year hiatus. Under second-year coach Nedra Brown, the Bulldogs bolster one of the top returning classes in the conference.
Joining Lewis and Corneille are 2007 SWAC Newcomer of the Year Natalie Rodriguez, all-tournament honoree Madinah Abdullah and senior hitter Cassidy Brazelton.
Rodriguez led the conference in assists handing out an average of 10.66 assists per game. Abdullah finished with 240 kills and was an essential performer during the tournament (52 kills, 53 digs, 9 aces). Brazelton was a good outside complement, ending the season with 158 kills, 55 digs and 26 blocks.
Grambling State continues to be a title contender under head coach Kim Young. This season, the Lady Tigers feature a squad filled with experience (six returning starters). Leading the unit are seniors Talon Morgan and Latisha Stennis along with junior Jovon Lewis.
Both Morgan and Stennis were chosen second-team all-conference in 2007. Morgan averaged 9.35 assists per game last season while tallying 118 kills and 281 digs. Stennis averaged 3.71 digs per game and finished with 29 assists. Lewis was strong in the middle with 243 total kills, 93 total blocks and 36 digs.
In the Western Division, Grambling State garnered 12 first-place votes en route to 88 voting points. Prairie View A&M (five first-place votes) was second with 81 points while Texas Southern (one first-place vote) was third with 55 points. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (40 pts) and Southern (36 pts) rounded out the division.
In the Eastern Division, Alabama A&M was chosen first with 14 first-place votes as they received 92 points. Mississippi Valley State — a 2006 tournament runner-up — was picked second with 79 points (four first-place votes) while Jackson State (two first-place votes) received 68 points. Alabama State (39 pts) and Alcorn State (22 pts) close out the divisional list.
Alabama A&M had four players chosen for preseason honors — two on the first team. Grambling State had two first-team selections en route to three total choices. Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff each had two selections while Texas Southern, Jackson State and Southern each had one athlete named.
The CIAA Volleyball Coaches Association has selected its 2008 All-CIAA Volleyball Pre-Season Team.
Fayetteville State University top returning star and 2007 Player of the Year, Chekimbrell Jefferson leads this year’s preseason team; boasting the conference championship title and the top slot in two conference statistical categories (.379 hitting pct., 114 kills, 4.17 kpg.). Last season, the Lady Broncos went undefeated in conference play.
Other top returning players include, Davia Moss of Livingstone College (92 kills, 3.78 kpg., 84 total blocks) and Xie’Ara Maybank-Smallings of Elizabeth City State University with 54 solo blocks, 104 kills and a hitting average of .318; second in the conference.
Season play begins on August 28, with non-conference opponents spanning from Pennsylvania to North Carolina.