COMMERCE, Texas -- A&M-Commerce's volleyball squad hit the court at the Field House for the first time as the Lions began their preseason workouts leading up to the start of the 2012 season. The Lions will be on the court at the Field House multiple times a day over the next two weeks, leading up to the season opener against Alabama-Huntsville on Friday, August 31st.
Head coach Craig Case was excited heading into the 2012 season, but knew expectations would be much higher. "There is no room for error this year," Case said. "We return our entire lineup practically from last year and I think our players feel there is a little bit of unfinished business. We have all the pieces in place this year, so I think the expectations of ourselves is a lot higher than last year and will take a lot more for us to consider this year a success."
Lion fans will see a bunch of returning faces to the roster as A&M-Commerce did not lose a single player to graduation in 2011. Two-time All-LSC middle blocker Rachel Robertson will be back to anchor the middle in her senior campaign with fellow senior Morgan Moeller looking to close out her career in style as well.
Among the A&M-Commerce junior class is a number of key positions for the Lions, including two-time All-LSC setter Jordan Neal, right side hitter Kayla Bond, outside hitters Ciara Holmes and Chelsea Simonton, libero Dakota Crockett and defensive specialist Haley Richburg. Along with redshirt sophomore Chelsee Hudson, Case was looking forward to seeing how each of them had improved in the offseason and expected some quality battles for playing time and starting jobs.
Last year's freshman class proved to be one of the highlights of the 2011 season, and now that they are sophomores, even more will be expected of them. Outside hitter Ezon Onditi, middle blocker Breanne Snyder and defensive specialist Savanah Neal each had explosive freshman campaigns, and now with a year under their belts will be looked to to provide consistent threats both at the net and the back row for the Lions.
Case also added a pair of talented players in the offseason, bringing in transfer libero Michaela Spicer from Stephen F. Austin and adding freshman defensive specialist Haley Major from Euless Trinity.
A&M-Commerce just missed qualifying for the Lone Star Conference tournament last season, tying for ninth-place and missing out by one match. With an experienced lineup returning, as well as the memory of falling short last season, Case is eager to see how this veteran team responds.
"The spring workouts we had were as good as any I've been a part of, and I think this team is ready to take that next step this fall," Case said. "I know our seniors want to end their career on a high note and the underclassmen want to help take this program to new levels, so I expect a great preseason camp leading into what will hopefully be a memorable 2012 season."