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Panthers look for more consistency in 2013

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.—As preseason training camp draws to a close, Birmingham-Southern Head Coach Judy Green and staff sat down and talked about prospects of the 2013 season and what Panther Volleyball fans can expect of the BSC Panthers this fall.

BSC opens the season this Friday, August 30, at the Huntingdon College Jubilee, facing Agnes Scott and Mississippi College, then LaGrange College and the host Hawks as well on Saturday, August 31. The Panthers are at home for the first time in 2013 on Friday, September 6 and 7, for the McAttack Volleyball Bash in Bill Battle Coliseum.

Outside HittersSenior Alex Bothe, Juniors Meredith Lee and Kelly Foster, First-Year players Lynsie Byrd and Yorisha Bryant

"This is probably our most experienced position, and we will rely on them to be able to not only terminate rallies but we will need them to manage their game consistently. Throughout the spring season we talked about being more patient on our 1st ball contact before we tried to go and attack. We feel Alex, Kelly, and Meredith have made significant progress in how they process the game in this area. These players are going to shoulder a heavy load for us as they will be primary passers in most situations and then be asked to attack effectively. Transfer Yorisha Bryant is perhaps the biggest surprise. She brings a different look to the outside position. She is an extremely physical volleyball player who is young in her development. She is a very good athlete who hits a heavy ball. Freshman Lynsie Byrd has impressed us in pre-season with her ability to play either outside or right side. She is a smart well-rounded volleyball player with solid fundamentals. Having this depth is a good situation to be in, since last year we were thin on the outside. We believe this group will be fun to watch develop and that we can become even more dynamic offensively as the season progresses."

Opposites/Right Sides – Redshirt Sophomore Kathleen Pfitzer, Sophomore Mollie Peavy, Freshman Lynsie Byrd

"If we commit to running a 6-2 this season these three players will be battling it out for the two positions. Kathleen is finally healthy and has worked so hard to get back to being a better player since her injury. She is mentally and physically ready to compete again. Mollie has steadily made progress from last season. She spent the summer working with her club coach developing a better arm swing and has been hitting with more speed. Both Kathleen and Mollie will need to continue to expand their attacking in order for us to be highly successful. We need to be able to attack second and first tempo with them as long as our ball control can support it. We believe Lynsie Byrd is a hybrid type of right side hitter. She can easily move around and attack in different zones consistently. She sees the court well and is a low error type of player. We are counting on this group to create balance in our team offense as well as be able to affect the opponents best outside hitters from a blocking perspective."

Libero/Defensive Specialists - Senior Sarassa Burrus, Sophomores Lauren Bedford and Olivia Schmitz

"Our team will go as our libero and defensive specialists go. We will depend so much on this position for our sideout tempo and our ability to dig and transition. With the exception of the setters, this position ultimately affects almost every rally outcome. Senior Sarassa Burrus is a composed and steady player at this position. She has done the work in the spring and over the summer to improve her game. She is now able to play the game pain free and that alone will allow her to be her true competitive self on the court. Sophomore Lauren Bedford continues to improve at a consistent rate. Her passing skills have improved and she is learning how to dictate what she wants the ball to do. She has great energy on the floor and can make things happen. Sophomore Olivia Schmitz is in a new role this season. Primarily she will play middle back defense this season and she is starting to buy into that role. Her platform is more stable and her control on defense is consistently improving. For these players they will need to affect the game by serving tough, serving with purpose, passing above a 2.2, digging as many balls as they can touch, and creating energy at every turn."

Setters – Sophomores Emily Dang, Caitlin Lee, and Katie McCormack

"Strength is in our numbers. Replacing a First-Team All-SAA setter is never easy, but instead of relying on one new setter to do that we are going to rely upon three. I could not be more pleased with the development of our young setters this pre-season. They have improved by leaps and bounds, but this improvement was prefaced by how hard they trained this summer. It is evident that each one has improved her game. Our goal is to set consistent balls to consistent zones every time we touch the ball. Emily, Caitlin and Katie all know how important they are in building the confidence of their hitters. They know they will get instant feedback on their performance based upon our team's hitting efficiency during practice drills and matches. It is our job as coaches to keep their confidence high as they develop their games. As a coaching staff it has been fun to see how much improvement they continue to make. The sky is the limit."

Middle Blockers – Juniors Katie O'Bar and Sara Kate Bracewell, First-Year players Caroline Hyde, Peyton van Ekris and Laura Van Peursem

"Finally we have depth at the middle blocking position. We added athleticism, speed, and experience with our three new players to go along with our experienced returners. This season our middles will be a big part of our offense both in transition and in sideout. We expect them to be available to attack the ball in a variety of zones from the 10 foot line to the net. We have expanded our offense and we should pose more problems for our opponents this fall. Middle blockers have to play with a little bit of reckless abandon. We need them to be aggressive calling the blocking schemes and then make something positive happen at the net. All of these players are tireless workers and understand that in order for us to be better than we were a year ago, they have to be better. The most impressive thing about all of them is they are multi-dimensional players; they can play the whole game."

The Schedule

"In the off season we sat down as a team and talked in-depth about the program we desired to be. Through these conversations emerged five new program Core Covenants. We worked diligently to apply those core covenants to our daily routines on the volleyball court but also in the classroom and in our personal lives. Last season we battled so much adversity and there never seemed to be a time when we were grounded together moving in one direction for more than one week at a time. Our goal this season is to become a more consistent volleyball program and team. This starts with our approach to practice daily. It is very important for the coaching staff and the players to be in tune with one another and have our minds right as we try to improve. Distractions came at a premium last season and this season we will be better prepared for the unexpected.

"Our non-conference schedule will prepare us for SAA play. We open at the Huntingdon College Jubilee again where we are the defending tournament champions. Then we come back home to host the BSC Drury Inn & Suites McAttack Invitational which is very dear to our hearts. This tournament is in honor of the late David McKannan, father of BSC Volleyball alum Jennifer McKannan who lost his battle with ALS last fall. David inspired all of us to be better people and to fight a good fight. The field this year is quality and there will be some exciting matches for our fans to come watch.

"The SAA looks to have more parity this season but Berry is the clear cut favorite to win the conference. We are all chasing Berry and we know the level we will have to play in order to knock off a team with that much experience. The plan is to focus on the moment and improve a little bit every day throughout the season. The x-factor of course will be how strong can we be together, because we know there is strength in numbers. To say we are excited to start the season is an understatement."