01/13/12 — MOC puts powerful team on court

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MOC puts powerful team on court

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on January 13, 2012 1:48 PM

Mount Olive College, once again, is thinking big on the volleyball court this season.

And who can blame it?

Five starters return for the Trojans, which makes them a solid bet to successfully defend their Conference Carolinas regular-season and tournament championships for a third consecutive year. With considerable firepower in the lineup, nothing is outside the realm of possibility.

Leadership, unity and strong transition play will be key elements to Mount Olive's success this season.

Plenty of challenges await, too.

Mount Olive faces a demanding schedule that includes a date against defending national champion Ohio State, former national champ Penn State and contests against teams that spent time ranked on either the NCAA or NAIA scene last season. The Trojans launch their 2012 campaign at home today against Barton in the six-team MOC Volleyball Festival. First serve is 3 p.m. inside Kornegay Arena.

"The festival is a chance to work on some things ... see what we're good at right now and where we need improvement," said fourth-year Trojans' head coach Cole Tallman. "Every point is going to be someone's mistake. What we'd like to do is (accomplish) the same goal that we always have, which is to play well and prevail against good competition.

"We'll try to make sure we're unique with our effort, dynamic on defense and blocking techniques, and solid with ball control."

Directing the Trojans' offense is returning setter Jackson Metichecchia, who led the nation in assists last season. The 6-foot-2 senior doled out 817 assists and averaged 12.38 assists per set.

Angel Dache and Adam Miracle, who each earned all-Conference Carolinas honors a year ago, ranked first and third, respectively, on the team in kills last season. The duo combined for 487 of the Trojans' 1,238 kills.

Dache led the defense with 123 digs.

Fayetteville native John Nunns emerged the program's first-ever Academic All-American last season, and compiled an astounding .581 hitting percentage which would have led the nation in 2012. However, the 6-5 middle blocker didn't receive enough sets to qualify for the honor.

Nunns collected 186 kills and a team-high 72 blocks, four more than 6-10 sophomore Jack Tutty, who is competing for time in the middle along with 6-8 senior Tim Ebbecke. Ebbecke and Tutty combined for 2.7 blocks a set last season.

"Tutty has been having strong spring practice sessions and giving everyone big challenges," said Tallman. "We have four people battling for the opposite spot. We're still young, but we have a great senior class as well. We've got some experience and enthusiasm that we hope will lead to a very successful season."