Bulldogs Open 2011 Season at McAlister Field House on Friday
Charleston, S.C. – When The Citadel Volleyball team opens its 2011 season on Friday afternoon, it will face Bethune-Cookman and Savannah State, who it has a combined 14-1 all-time record against.
For only the fifth time in program history, and first since the 2007 season, The Citadel will open its volleyball season at McAlister Field House. The Bulldogs are 6-7 in season openers, while new head coach Amir Khaledi is 6-2 in season opening contests, dating back to his days at the helm of Charleston Southern.
MATCHES MOVED TO McALISTER: After Hurricane Irene canceled the Tiny Lester Memorial Volleyball Tournament at Hampton University on Wednesday, Citadel Head Coach Amir Khaledi announced that the Bulldogs will host a series of three matches on Friday afternoon.
Three participants, Bethune-Cookman, Savannah State and the host Citadel, who committed to attend the Tiny Lester Memorial Volleyball Tournament, have agreed to play at McAlister Field House on Friday afternoon.
The match schedules are as follows:
The Citadel vs. Savannah State
Bethune-Cookman vs. Savannah State
The Citadel vs. Bethune-Cookman
2011 CITADEL VOLLEYBALL OUTLOOK: The Citadel Volleyball program underwent its fourth coaching change in school history during the offseason when Director of Athletics Larry W. Leckonby promoted Amir Khaledi to head coach on Nov. 22. The former Charleston Southern head coach, who has spent the last five years with the program as an assistant coach, assumed control of a unit that includes one senior, six juniors, one sophomore and six incoming freshmen that will be the foundation blocks for the future.
The new coaching philosophy of implementing solid volleyball, playing to the strength of his roster while providing a level of comfort for his players, allowed the Bulldogs to experience a successful spring campaign. "The girls are comfortable playing together and we established a solid foundation that we can use during the fall season," said Khaledi. "We certainly gained the confidence to show that we can be a very strong unit in 2011."
The eight returnees to the 2011 Citadel Volleyball squad will look to recapture the winning formula that came during a stretch of five wins in six matches over Savannah State, USC Upstate, Norfolk State, Hampton and South Carolina State last September. The team capped off the season with a pair of victories over Southern Conference foe Western Carolina and in-state rival South Carolina State. The Citadel showed incredible composure in the five-set victory over S.C. State after falling behind, 2-1, in the match, by winning three straight games for their seventh victory of the season.
"Good things are in store for the Bulldog Volleyball program," added Khaledi. "We are ready to get started and looking forward to the first game of the season. With the combination of new and familiar faces it will be a good mesh of both worlds."
PREVIEWING THE OPPOSITION
BETHUNE-COOKMAN (7-27 Overall, 2010): Bethune-Cookman Head Coach Isaac Raphael inherits a team that finished 7-27 last season and was picked to finish fourth in the MEAC's six-team Southern Division.
Two seniors will lead the Lady Cats in 2011, middle blocker Linda Nwabuko and setter Frances Rodriguez. Nwabuko registered 172 kills, fifth best on the team, while Rodriguez platooned with freshman Alexis Bliese.
Nwabuko will benefit from the tutelage of assistant coach Kisya Killingsworth-Putney, the former Florida All-American who went on to become an All-American at Florida.
Sophomore Kat Agson is expected to contribute along with Nwabuko in the middle.
The outside hitters will be paced by Krysta Gardner, whose 228 kills were second-highest on the team last year. Bliese, who posted 777 assists in her freshman season, may once again split time setting with Rodriguez as Raphael tries to get the most of both players.
SAVANNAH STATE (5-23 Overall, 2010): Savannah State had 12 players report to camp, including nine from the 2010 squad.
Defensive specialist Jennifer Lowe is the lone senior for the Lady Tigers, finished with 150 kills (1.70 kills/set) and 132 digs (1.50 digs/set) last season. Savannah State has a strong contingent of juniors, including Kaneisha Hamilton (defensive specialist), Kenandra Lewis (defensive specialist), Ashlee Butler (setter), Chikia Jones (outside hitter) and Bianca Helton (middle blocker).
First-year coach Schannon Gamble assumes the reins at Savannah State after serving as the head volleyball coach and academic coordinator at Lincoln University (Pa.).
For more information on Bulldog Volleyball, go to the official website of The Citadel Athletics, www.CitadelSports.com.