09/02/05 — Trojan spikers open season in Sunshine State

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Trojan spikers open season in Sunshine State

Published in Sports on September 2, 2005 2:00 PM

The Mount Olive College women's volleyball team opens up its 2005 season this weekend - finally.

After having its season opener canceled last week, Mount Olive begins regular season play as the Trojans travel to the Sunshine State to compete in the Florida Southern Classic, hosted by Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Fla.) and Rollins College (Winter Park, Fla.).

The Trojans open play Friday in Winter Park, taking on Dowling (N.Y.) at 1 p.m. and Rollins at 7 p.m. The Trojans travel up the road to Lakeland Saturday to face Florida Southern at 12:30 p.m. and Franklin Pierce (N.H.) at 4 p.m.

Mount Olive returns six starters from last year's NCAA Tournament team, including two-time All-American outside hitter Heidi Busch, who ranked second in the nation last season with 701 kills. The 5-11 senior has earned All-Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference first team honors in each of her first three years.

Busch is joined by a pair of seniors, 5-7 setter Sara Christie and 6-0 middle blocker Colby Mangum, both of whom are two-time All-CVAC selections. Mangum has ranked in the top 10 in the nation in blocks in each of the last two years.

Middle hitter Anna Luft earned All-CVAC and All-Region honors last year, ranking in the top 20 in the nation in hitting percentage. The 5-10 junior also ranked among the conference leaders in service aces.

The Trojans' two Wisconsin natives, 5-5 junior libero Nikki Murphy and 5-8 sophomore outside hitter Sam Mitchell, both ranked among the conference leaders in digs last season. Mitchell was also among the leaders in kills.

Mount Olive's four freshmen - 5-8 outside hitters Kari Ham and Bethany Malcolm, 5-4 defensive specialist Mallory Peavler and 5-10 outside hitter Tracey Smith - all look for their first collegiate competition this weekend.

Of Mount Olive's four opponents this weekend, only Franklin Pierce has not played any matches as of yet. Florida Southern, ranked No. 15 in the AVCA Preseason Top 25, and Rollins are both 4-0 to start the season. Dowling is 2-4, but one of its wins was at defending national champion Barry.

Mount Olive's scheduled season opener last Friday was canceled after Shaw University had to pull out. The Trojans did get to face outside competition Tuesday night in a scrimmage against Cape Fear Community College. Current Trojan assistant coach Gordon Kirby served as an assistant at Cape Fear last year.

This weekend marks the Trojans' first trip to Florida since 2003, when Mount Olive competed in the Eckerd College Tournament in St. Petersburg.