01/14/11 — MOC men's volleyball preview

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MOC men's volleyball preview

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 14, 2011 1:47 PM

Four all-conference players graduated. Gone is the league player of the year.

One of the top five hitters return, ironically, the lone starter who remains in the lineup.

Sounds like a formula that requires a rebuilding season, doesn't it?

Not at Mount Olive College.

The loss of six record-holding players is undoubtedly significant, but a mix of returning understudies and new faces are expected to continue the tradition at the perennial Division II powerhouse. The Trojans, directed by second-year head coach Cole Tallman, attempt their first serve of the 2011 season today against Lewis in Bristol, Tenn.

MOC begins defense of its Conference Carolinas regular-season championship Saturday at King College, which handed the Trojans one of two league losses a year ago.

"(There is) an excellent group of teams in the conference," said Tallman. "Being able to balance the necessity of achievement-based confidence and the humility great teams have to respect their opponents and the game of volleyball (are important)."

Sophomore outside hitter Adam Miracle, the 2010 Conference Carolinas freshman of the year, is the lone returning starter. The Ohio native ranked third on the team in total kills (188) and digs (67) a year ago.

Starting alongside Miracle today is JUCO transfer Jackson Metechechhia, a setter from California; freshman opposite Benedikt Schirmmers; junior middle blockers John Nunns and Bjorn Metzger; and freshman outside hitter Angel Dache.

Sophomore Dan Arnold is the libero.

"In spite of years of volleyball success, (Adam) only wants the team to improve and works hard to make that happen," said Tallman. "(Jackson) has quickly become an impressive team leader. Though never satisfied in improving his own skills, (he's) only concerned about the success of the team.

"(I'm) pleased with both our depth and the players' impressive work habits. The lineup can and will change during the season as needed."

Tallman will also depend on returners Alex Vasquez and Tim Ebbecke. The duo combined for 70-plus kills in reserve roles last season.

The Trojans' challenging schedule includes road dates at George Mason, former NCAA champion Penn State and contests against programs on the D-II and III levels. Spaced throughout the schedule are home-and-away matchups against Conference Carolinas foes King, Pfeiffer, Lees-McRae and Limestone (S.C.) College.

"Courage, character and concern for others (describes the team)," said Tallman. "In the gym, they continue the mentality of matching talent with an even more impressive work ethic ... not as something unique, but a daily expectation."

MOC's home opener is Jan. 25 against Eastern Mennonite (Va.) University. First serve is 7 p.m. at Kornegay Arena.