Lady Bobcats look to Claim Conference Titles in 2009

BANNER ELK, N.C. - The Lees-McRae College Lady Bobcats women's volleyball team prepares to regain control on Conference Carolinas women's volleyball with a 2009 season and tournament championship. The Lady Bobcats were picked third in the conference preseason poll.

The Lady Bobcats are looking to return to form that has won ten conference championships in 11 years. Last season the team suffered an early exit from the tournament in a second round loss to Mount Olive. They also finished fourth in the regular season.

The Lady Bobcats will be led by an experienced group of seniors in setters Lauren Dickover and Trisha Reese and middle hitter Katie-Marie Legg. Dickover and Reese rotated at the setter position all season. Dickover recorded 4.54 assist per game, while Reese had 5.68 assist per game. Legg control the middle of the net last season with .71 blocks per game and averaged 1.39 kills per game. These three senior's role and leadership will be crucial for the Lady Bobcats in 2009.

Also returning for the Lady Bobcats is outside hitter and the 2008 Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year, Megan Epperson. In 2008, Epperson was second on the team in kills with 265 kills in 114 games for an average of 2.32 kills per game. She was also second on the team in digs with 309 digs for an average of 2.71 digs per game. Second Team All-Conference performer in 2008, Whitney Kiser, returns at the other middle position. In 2008 she averaged 2.42 kills per game and 0.75 blocks per game.

The Lady Bobcats return two right-side hitters in Taylor Strice and Lauren Hall. Strice earned valuable playing experience in 2008, and Hall ended 2008 on a tear. Justine Congdon returns as a defensive specialist after missing 90 percent of the season with a shoulder injury.

Head coach Jamie Petrik added four to round out the 2009 squad. Freshman Taylor Clendenin will compete for playing time at the outside position after taking her high school team to a State Championship. Megan Mitchell will join the team as a setter after she finished her senior season and earned a nomination for Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Nevada. Meme Brown, a product of the High Country, will compete for minutes at the middle hitter position, and Brazilian Luana Rocha will look to see action as a libreo.

"I am excited for this year," Petrik said. "We have a solid group of senior leaders, and we are going to have battle inside the practice gym in the preseason for playing time. My hope is that the intensity will transfer onto the court for the season."

The Lady Bobcats take the court on against the University of Charleston on August 28th at 3:00 p.m. in the Carson-Newman Tournament for their first match of the season. The team will open in Williams Gymnasium with the Carolina Challenge September 4th-5th.

Conference Carolinas Women's Volleyball Preseason Poll (# of First Place Votes in Parenthesis)

1. Pfeiffer (4) 107

2. Limestone (2) 101

3. Lees-McRae (2) 98

T-4. Anderson (2) 95

T-4. Mount Olive (2) 95

6. Queens 58
T-7. St. Andrews 57
T-7. Belmont Abbey 57

9. Barton 43

10. Converse 34

11. Erskine 30
12. Coker 17