Aug. 7, 2009
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s volleyball team kicked off the 2009 campaign with a morning practice Friday, and Tech fans will have their first chance to meet the team Saturday afternoon prior to the Great Jacket Encounter.
The Jackets practiced twice Friday and will hold their a closed session Saturday morning before heading over to Bobby Dodd Stadium to sign autographs on the Plaza from 3-4 p.m. Tech fans can pick up a copy of the 2009 poster during the autograph session.
The team, in its first season under head coach Tonya Johnson, returns seven letterwinners from the 2008 squad that finished 20-10, while six newcomers appear on the 2009 roster. A breakdown on what Yellow Jacket fans can expect this season is as follows:
Mary Ashley Tippins returns for her third season on the Flats, but this will be her first running the Yellow Jacket offense following the departure of Allie Niekamp, who finished her eligibility in 2008. Tippins already appears ninth in Tech’s career record books with 1,037 assists in her first two seasons, and has averaged over nine assists per set in 40 matches. Fans can expect an up-tempo offense from the Atlanta native, who is also a very good defensive setter.
Jordan Kissman enters her first year on the Flats after serving as a standout setter at Eaglecrest High School in Denver, Colo., last season. She’s a well-trained newcomer that defends her position well and will gain valuable playing time as one of just two setters on the 2009 squad.
Chrissy DeMichelis is primed for a breakout season in her fourth and final year with the program, and showed her excellent offensive capabilities with a strong 2008 campaign. She’s averaged more than three kills more set each of her last two seasons and is one of the best blocking outside hitters on the team, with 0.52 blocks per set over her three-year career. DeMichelis is the most experienced offensive threat returning to the squad, following the departure of seniors Talisa Kellogg and Callie Miller in 2008.
After playing sparingly in 2008, sophomore Bailey Hunter is primed for a breakout sophomore season. An explosive hitter that possesses a good jump serve, Hunter tallied 100 kills as a freshman last season while showing flashes of what made her a two-time high school All-American. She is expected to push for a starting role on the outside this year.
Sophomore Alison Campbell will provide relief both as an outside hitter and defensive specialist for the Yellow Jackets in 2009. A good all-around player that played in 30 matches as a true freshman last season, Campbell is averaging 1.32 kills and 1.94 digs per set for her career.
Joining the ranks on the outside and in her first season at Georgia Tech is freshman Susan Carlson, a native of Pasadena, Calif. Carlson’s all-around abilities will make it hard for Johnson to keep her out of the lineup during her first season, while her court demeanor is expected to bring excitement to the 2009 squad.
Perhaps one of the most dynamic freshmen in the ACC this season will be Monique Mead, a native of Newnan, Ga., and member of the Atlanta-area A5 club team last year. Mead will begin the season on the right side for the Yellow Jackets and brings a championship mentality to the team after being a part of several national championship club squads over the last two years. The 2009 Gatorade Player of the Year for Georgia enrolled at Tech in January to participate in spring drills in preparation for the 2009 season.
Brittany Roderick concluded the 2008 campaign in the middle of the court following the injury to freshman middle Asia Stawicka, and that’s where she’ll begin the 2009 season. A senior from Orlando, Fla., Roderick can play both the middle and right side, and has very good speed and court knowledge in both positions.
Stawicka was one of the top offensive threats in the Atlantic Coast Conference before missing the last 11 matches of the 2008 campaign, but returns for her sophomore season after posting a .390 hitting percentage as a freshman. The Warsaw native averaged 1.62 kills and 1.08 blocks per set last season and is expected to contribute even more in her second year at Georgia Tech.
A player that could push for playing time immediately is freshman middle Annie Czarnecki, the tallest player on the 2009 roster. Listed at 6-3, Czarnecki spent three years as a Georgia native before ending her prep career in Bettendorf, Iowa. She’s been a member of numerous all-conference and all-state squads as a premier high school middle blocker and has shown tremendous upside since signing her national letter of intent during the spring.
Two years after her arrival on the Flats, Jordan McCullers will make a push for the starting libero role vacated by senior Michelle Kandell. McCullers started on the back row in each of her first two years as a Yellow Jacket, and provides the leadership and tenacity needed for Tech to be successful on the back row. A junior from Kennesaw, Ga., McCullers has averaged 2.16 digs per set while playing in all 62 matches over the last two seasons.
Nicki Meyer (Gainesville, Fla.) and Hannah Tucci (Austin, Tex.) begin their first collegiate seasons in 2009 and will join McCullers as Tech’s back row specialists. Both Meyer and Tucci led their respective prep programs to state championships – Meyer in 2007 and Tucci in 2006 – and were named all-state in their respective states.
The Yellow Jackets kick off the 2009 campaign against a familiar foe when they host Georgia in Tech’s opening match of the Regency Suites Invitational on August 28. The match will begin at 7 p.m. at O’Keefe Gym, the home of Tech volleyball for the last 14 years. Tech will kick off conference play two weeks into the 2009 schedule (Sept. 11) when it faces Clemson at 7 p.m. in the opening match of the Courtyard Classic at O’Keefe Gym.
To purchase advance tickets to Yellow Jackets volleyball matches, call 888.TECH.TIX or visit www.ramblinwreck.com/tickets.