Brevard, N.C. - The Brevard College Volleyball team opens up their 2010 home schedule this weekend, hosting South Atlantic Conference opponents Tusculum College on Friday evening in Boshamer Gymnasium and take on Mars Hill College on Saturday afternoon, also in Brevard.
The Tornados are currently 2-3, 0-1 in the South Atlantic Conference overall this season. Brevard opened up the 2010 season with a victory on the road against Converse College on Sept. 2nd, defeating the Valkyries in a thrilling five set match. Brevard made it two victories in a row by sweeping Mountain State in their first match at the Volley in the Mountains tournament held at Montreat College.
Brevard has recently hit a three-match skid, falling to Florida College, Montreat and most recently in another five-set match in their conference opener against Lenoir-Rhyne. Against the Bears, freshman Kortney Conner and sophomore Jamie Atkinson led the Tornados with nine kills apiece, bringing the Tornados back from a 2-1 set deficit, before falling in the fifth set.
This season, the Tornados feature several new faces in key positions, as Brevard lost five seniors off of the 2009 team and had several others transfer, but Coach Skeffington’s team hasn’t skipped a beat this season, thanks in part to senior libero and team captain Rebecca Schoonover.
Schoonover, the lone senior on Tornados volleyball team this season, received preseason recognition by being selected the SAC Sport Information Directors as a member of the Preseason All-SAC Second Team. She was an Honorable Mention recipient for the sixth annual Wooden Cup last year, returns as the Tornados active digs leader and is third all-time in the BC record books in digs in her career. This season, after finishing fifth overall in the conference in digs in 2009, Schoonover is back among the conference leaders, averaging 4.36 digs per contest, while shoring up the Tornados backline defense.
The Tornados finished first overall in the South Atlantic Conference in 2009 in blocks per game with 2.41 per game and returners Jordei Osby and Atkinson were major players in the effort as Osby finished second overall in the conference with 1.16 per game, with 109 total blocks, recording 48 solo blocks and 61 block assists, including a pair of nine block efforts against Mars Hill last season. Osby is back among the leaders in the conference again, sitting second overall, averaging 1.14 per game, while leading the SAC with 15 solo blocks, while the team is second overall in the SAC for the season, averaging 1.96 blocks per game.
Offensively, the Tornados ran into the daunting task of replacing their top two hitters from last season, but have found their leaders early this season as Conner, Osby and Atkinson have proved up to the task. Conner leads the way for Brevard, averaging 2.89 kills per contest and was ranked fifth overall in the SAC according to last week’s rankings, while Osby and Atkinson provide consistency up front and both are averaging more than a kill and a half per game. Junior Ashlie Morrison also returns and joins freshmen Joy Oswalt and Erin Rollins in providing depth and energy to the front line.
Brevard faces two familiar opponents in their opening home stand in the Pioneers and the Lions.
Last season, the Tornados went into the final week of the season needing victories over both teams to make it to their second straight Food Lion South Atlantic Conference tournament and Atkinson and Osby placed home the final points in each of the matches to give the Tornados the victories.
Tusculum, a 2009 Southeast NCAA Regional Tournament participant, was picked to finish fifth overall in the SAC Preseason Coaches Poll and currently is 3-2, 1-0 in conference play on the season, having swept Mars Hill 3-0 on Tuesday night to open SAC competition.
Led by sophomores Bailee Price and Sam Underwood, the Pioneers feature four players averaging over two kills per game, while freshman Ashley Sarmiento sets up the Tusculum attack, averaging 9.00 set assists per game. Defensively, freshman Caitlyn Dean leads the South Atlantic Conference with 8.24 digs per game and was the SAC office’s choice for Specialist of the Week following the first week of the season.
Mars Hill is also a familiar opponent for the Tornados and the Lions, led by Coach Tony Fontanelle, were selected to finish ninth overall in the Preseason SAC Coaches Poll.
Junior Laura Ann Huskey leads Mars Hill in the early going in the 2010 season, averaging 3.23 kills per game, good enough to be third overall in the SAC rankings. Marissa Wilson and Evie Tafunai are also averaging over two kills per game for Mars Hill as the Lions are currently 3-1, 1-0 in SAC competition on the season. Defensively, Maggie Murphy and Doneisha Gartica lead the Lions on the season as Murphy is averaging 4.50 digs per game and Gartica leads the way with 12 total blocks on the season.
First serve for Friday’s match between Brevard and Tusculum is set for 7 p.m. in Boshamer Gymnasium, while Saturday’s contest between the Tornados and Lions is set to begin at 3 p.m.