09/03/10 — MOC spikers take court for tourney

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MOC spikers take court for tourney

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on September 3, 2010 1:47 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Meet the high standards.

Forget a person's opinion.

Focus on the result.

The Mount Olive College volleyball team has adopted those differing philosophies in an attempt to mesh five returners with nine freshmen this season. So far the group has shown an impressive work ethic during daily practices at Kornegay Arena.

They'll put themselves to the test within the next 24 hours.

The Trojans open regular-season play this afternoon against Augusta State (Ga.) University at the Anderson (S.C.) University Invitational. They face Virginia State later in the evening, and return for Saturday contests against Southern Wesleyan and Lincoln Memorial (Tenn.).

MOC starts its Conference Carolinas schedule Tuesday at in-state member Queens University of Charlotte.

Kailey Preece hopes this year's beginning doesn't duplicate the 2009 season when the Trojans played a brutal non-conference schedule and started 1-12 overall. They triumphed in 11 of their final 13 outings, and compiled a 13-19 worksheet overall.

"(Last year) makes me want to push the girls, show them an example of how you need to start out strong right away," said the senior outside hitter. "We have to start strong, finish (the season) strong and not build up (to the end). We want to be peaking at the right time."

Mount Olive was picked fourth in the 2010 Conference Carolinas preseason poll. The selection held two schools of thought for second-year head coach Cole Tallman. He said other coaches might not have realized six players graduated and quickly added that this year's group was disappointed because they have high expectations.

The Trojans last won a regular-season conference title in 2005 and claimed the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference tournament crown in 1997.

"Opinions are what other people think of you and the results are what you think of yourself," said Tallman. "Hopefully, that's going to keep being important to this group. (There is) a lot of perspiration in that gym we make sure gets cleaned up every day.

"But other than, we're paying our dues and looking forward to the season starting."

Tallman and assistant coach Hans Hillestad took a unique approach in the preseason. Instead of determining a starting lineup, they've mixed and matched the players in different situations -- sometimes every two minutes.

The scheme has proven valuable since it gives the freshmen considerable court time. But it also demonstrates the difficulty Tallman and Hillestad will encounter when they devise a lineup for today's season-opening match.

Returning with Preece are backup junior setter Destiny Ma'ave-Kuewa, sophomore libero Brooke Norris, sophomore opposite Bridgette Briggs and red-shirt sophomore Tiffany Hight.

"From a bird's-eye view (on the bench), I got a lot more insight into how coach Tallman and coach Hillestad do things on the court," said Hight. "Although, there are going to be fresh legs (on the court), I think have a Boston Celtics-type bench, which is strong, too. I hope I can go in after watching all the time (last year) and put that into action."