Lady Eagles report to camp; Begin preparations for 2011 season
JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The Carson-Newman Lady Eagles and eighth-year head coach Shannon Mincey reported to preseason camp on Monday to begin preparations for the 2011 volleyball season.
The Lady Eagles have put together back-to-back seasons in which they have reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, most recently on the strength of an opening-round win over rival Tusculum.
To extend its stretch of three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, Carson-Newman will need more of the same from senior Nikki James (Cookeville, Tenn.). James led all of Division II in blocks last season and was named All-South Atlantic Conference and all-region for her efforts.
While Mincey knows what to expect from an All-American candidate like James, she's been pleasantly surprised by what she sees her newcomers bringing to the table.
"I have six new freshman coming in," Mincey said after Monday's workouts. "But what one would think would be youth, has turned into a lot of energy and a lot of excitement. They've brought a new spirit to the game. They're all very talented. It's an exciting group."
C-N's biggest challenge will be replacing outside hitter Carli Mozgai and her nearly 500 kills from a season ago, but Mincey is seeing solutions after just a day of practice.
"Carly was our "go-to" player, whereas now we have a lot more options." Mincey said. "It seemed like we got into a pattern of using Carly. Now so much more could opened up for us offensively."
Carson-Newman will hold its Orange and Blue scrimmage on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Holt Fieldhouse. The match is open to the public.
The Lady Eagles open their 2011 regular season at the Francis Marion Invitational on Sept. 2-3. They will face Belmont Abbey, UNC Pembroke, Erskine, and Francis Marion in the two-day event. Last season, the Lady Eagles went 4-0 in the tournament.
C-N hosts Wingate University in its SAC and home opener on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.