BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—As pre-season training camp began, Birmingham-Southern Head Coach Judy Green sat down and talked about prospects of the 2012 season and what Panther Volleyball fans can expect of the BSC Panthers in the upcoming year.
BSC opens its slate next Friday, August 31, at the Huntingdon College Jubilee, facing the host Hawks as well as Piedmont College, then LaGrange College on Saturday, Sept. 1. The Panthers are at home for the first time in 2012 on Sept 22 and 23, taking on conference rivals Sewanee and Centre in Bill Battle Coliseum.
On the Seniors
"Shelby Moore, Lauren Reibe, Presley Dickson, and Alexis Pappas have love for BSC and for our volleyball program. They are determined to make their mark as they conclude their careers here. All four reported to pre-season camp in better shape than when they left, and are displaying a confidence to want to lead the team. Each one balances the others and we will need their mental toughness, courage, and competitive spirit if we are to reach our goals."
On the Underclassmen
"We are seven deep in this group and they are all going to play key roles as we go through the season. They are invested and now understand what is expected of a BSC Volleyball player. They too increased their conditioning level and strength numbers during the summer and passed their team fitness test with flying colors. I see a determined confidence in their eyes as they practice. They go hard and are more disciplined than last year. They are going to be very valuable in helping our seven new players get comfortable during their first year on campus."
On the Newcomers
"Our newcomers are competitive and passionate about being a Panther Volleyball player. They want to spread their wings and be a part of a true team. Like any new group there will be a learning curve in the gym and in the classroom, but I feel comfortable saying they can achieve great things over the next four years of their careers."
On the Makeup of the Team
"Well, we have two distinct groups – eleven returners and seven newcomers and we are going to have to really work at being a team and developing our identity and team chemistry. Although we have many different personalities, the one thing that bonds them together is their goal to put BSC Volleyball on the national volleyball map. They have heart and character, two perfect traits that makeup a championship level team."
On What to Expect in Year Two
"We are now part of a new NCAA Division III conference, the SAA [Southern Athletic Association]. By moving to a new conference we now have to wait two years in order for the champion of our conference to be awarded an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championship. But we can, however, earn an at-large bid if we are successful within region play. It was important that our 2012 schedule reflect only teams within the South Region. I believe our players know what they have to do on a daily basis in order to have an opportunity to make post-season."
On the Biggest Strengths of the Team
"Our motto is 'Put the Moose on the Table.' Our team is going to have to be willing to hold each other accountable daily in practice and in a match. We are trying to reach a level of respect with each other so we can accept constructive communication in order to make each other better. Our experience in our returning players is probably the one thing that stands out the most to me. They worked so hard last spring and over the summer to smarter, faster and stronger volleyball players."
On the SAA Conference Schedule
"Long gone are the days of playing four matches in less than 36 hours, and I for one am glad to see it go. We now will get the chance to play all seven of our SAA opponents home and away. It should help build rivalries within the league and it guarantees every team seven home matches. We are familiar with all the teams in our league because we competed against them last season. Playing two matches within a weekend follows consistently along the training pattern we follow. We should be fresh to play on day two of the weekend since we do not have to play so many opponents. The SAA should be very competitive and we are going to be in for the fight of our lives every day we take the floor. We will get every team's best shot and we need to be prepared for it."
On the Setters
"Having three setters on the roster gives me a sense of relief after having only one last fall. Lauren Reibe is certainly one of the best setters in the conference and continues to expand her game. She is evolving in her tactical approach to the game and has become a smarter setter. Our two freshmen setters, Emily Dang and Caitlin Lee, will need some time to catch up to the pace of the college game. We will have the option to move to a 6-2 if needed, something we were not able to do last season."
On the Middle Blockers
"Our middles are the most experienced position group on the roster. First-team All-SCAC player Shelby Moore returns and is more explosive than ever. Katie O'Bar and Alexis Pappas are battling daily for the M2 spot. Both have improved their athleticism from a year ago."
On the Outside Hitters
"Depth is certainly the word I would use to describe this group. We are four-deep at the left pin and four-deep at the right pin. Our returning outsides have learned how to play at a fast pace and are more versatile. Passing efficiency will be the key their success."
On the Defensive Specialists/Liberos
"Presley Dickson, Lauren Bedford, and Sarassa Burrus will play a huge factor to our success this season. All three possess great ball control and have arrived to pre-season camp with a lot of confidence. We need them to be aggressive with the intent to affect the outcome of a first ball contact. The quality of that contact will determine how fast we can run our offense and how we can keep our middle attack involved in the transition game."