Memphis Volleyball Opening Training Camp Saturday
Aug. 8, 2014
OPEN TEAM PRACTICE NIGHTS
MEMPHIS - -
After Friday’s final summer exams, the University of Memphis volleyball team will take on another type of test beginning Saturday, as the team opens its 2014 training camp with the first of three scheduled two-a-day practices under seventh year head coach April Jauregui.
The 2014 version of the Tiger volleyball roster features eight returnees and seven newcomers heading in to the program’s second season as a member of the American Athletic Conference. Leading the way for the Tigers will be a pair of second team All-American Athletic conference honorees in Alexis Wesley and Lauren Wright, two-year starting setter Veronica Zimmerman and senior libero Aleksandra Petronijevic.
Memphis returns a pair of all-conference middles for 2014. Wright, who played under her maiden last name of Hawkins last season, led the Tigers with 325 kills and a .261 hitting percentage. She also added 102 total blocks and her 23 service aces on the year ranked second on the squad.
Wesley completed her redshirt season with 256 kills last season, good for third on the roster, and led Memphis with 112 total blocks. Her .247 hitting percentage ranked 12th in the conference and she finished her sophomore campaign on a strong note, recording double-digit kills in six of the final seven matches of the year, including a career-best 20 kills against UCF.
That duo will be bolstered by the arrival of transfer Torika Baleilekutu and freshman Charlotte Wellens from Belgium. At 6-3, Wellens will put up a big block for the Tiger defense, while Baleilekutu’s experience in junior college will bring experience to the Tigers’ attack.
Zimmerman has quarterbacked the Tigers’ offense in each of the past two seasons from her setter spot. In 2013, she appeared in 122 of 126 sets Memphis played, with 31 starts. She led the team with 1,297 assists, crossing the 60-assist mark three times in the year, including a five-set win over USF in Memphis’ final game of 2013. Her .944 serving percentage led the squad in 2013 and she ranked third on the team with 299 digs. Unlike last year, when she was the lone setter on the Memphis roster, she will be joined by a pair of freshmen for 2014, as Regan Comperry and Faith Myers join the Tigers this fall.
On the outside, Memphis returns sophomores Catlin Lilly and McKenzie Hayes. Lilly got off to a quick start as a freshman. Her 859 swings led the team and her 283 kills ranked second, despite her missing the latter part of the season due to injury. In Lilly’s absence, Hayes’ stepped up in her freshman campaign, putting down 188 kills. Fellow sophomore Michaella Moss also helped filled the swings lost with Lilly’s injury, finishing with 94 kills and ranking fourth on the team with 294 digs. That trio of sophomore outsides will be joined by freshmen Oluchi Agomuo and Kate Gibson. All of that front line depth will also allow either Baleilekutu, Lilly, Moss or Wright to play right side hitter.
Behind all of that firepower up front will be a trio of defensive players, led by Petronijevic. Petronijevic is eying the Memphis career record in digs, needing 194 to tie Christen Clayton’s (2003-06) career mark. Her 5.17 digs per set in 2013 led the American Athletic Conference and ranked 28th in the country. She now holds the Memphis single match record for digs after digging up 38 attacks against UCF. She has junior Lindsey Purvis back to help her anchor the Tigers’ passing game and freshman Kendall Seering could also see time in the Tigers’ back row with her versatility after she played setter, libero and defensive specialist spots for Tipton Rosemark Academy during her prep career.
Memphis will host three Open Team Practice nights as part of their fall pre-season training camp. Those open practice nights at held from 5:00-7:00 on Monday, Aug. 11th, Friday, Aug. 15th and Tuesday, Aug. 19th.
The Tigers’ annual Blue/Gray scrimmage will be a free event hosted at the Elma Roane Fieldhouse on Friday, August 22nd from 5:00-8:00 p.m.
Memphis opens its non-conference slate at the Saint Louis University tournament, Aug. 29-30th. At the Billikens’ tournament, Memphis will open its season against Southeast Missouri State (10 a.m.) and the host team at 2 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 29th. They will wrap up the tournament against SEC foe Alabama, Saturday, Aug. 30th at 2 p.m. Alabama is one of four SEC opponents to dot Memphis’ 2014 schedule.
Memphis opens its home stand the following weekend by hosting its own four-team tournament. The Tigers will open their 2014 home slate against regional opponent Ole Miss, Sept. 5th at 7 p.m. in the Elma Roane Fieldhouse.