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Union volleyball picked to finish second in TranSouth preseason poll

HENDERSON, Tenn. - 8/18/2009 - The Union University volleyball program has been selected to finish second in the 2009 TranSouth Coaches Poll. Union claimed the 2008 TranSouth Tournament title, after finishing runner-up in the regular season standings.

Union is a close second behind last season’s regular season champions, Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) University, who received 62 total points and six of the eight first-place votes. Union received the remaining two first-place votes to finish second in the poll.

Last year's tournament runner-up, Trevecca Nazarene (Tenn.) University, placed third with 42 points followed closely by Lyon (Ark.) College with 39. Bethel (Tenn.) University came in fifth with Cumberland (Tenn.) University and Martin Methodist (Tenn.) College tied for sixth. Mid-Continent (Ky.) University placed eighth.

The NAIA Preseason National Rankings are scheduled to be released on Tuesday, August 18 and can be found at www.naia.org.



2009 Volleyball Preseason Coaches Poll

(rank-team-total points, first place votes in parentheses)
1. Freed-Hardeman (6) - 62
2. Union University (2) - 56
3. Trevecca Nazarene - 42
4. Lyon College - 39
5. Bethel University - 29
T6. Cumberland University - 25
T6. Martin Methodist - 25
8. Mid-Continent - 10


2009 Union University Volleyball Season Outlook

The Union University volleyball team is coming off an outstanding 2008 season. Last year, the team finished with an overall record of 27-8, claimed the TranSouth Tournament Title, and participated in the NAIA National Tournament for the first time since 2004.

Union head coach Steven Gream looks to build on the successes of last season. Union lost five players from the 2008 squad, but will have three returning players to help carry the momentum. The returning players include three starters who will guide the new players as they transition into the Union volleyball program. The team looks to mesh early and remain a favorite in the TranSouth, as well as, make a return trip to the national tournament.

The 2009 season brings eight new faces to the Union roster, all coming from competitive programs and volleyball clubs. Their skills and experience will be invaluable as the volleyball team begins the new season. These new players bring a balance of youth and experience to the program with three players transferring from junior college programs, one from an NCAA DI program and four entering Union as freshmen.

The lone senior on the 2009 squad is Katie Adams, returning for her second and final year at Union. In 2008, Adams was an all-conference player, Cumberland (Tenn.) Tournament MVP, TranSouth Conference All-Tournament team, conference player of the week, led the TranSouth Conference in Assists and was among the conference leaders in serving aces.

The junior class includes four players. Heather Lieberman returns to Union for her second season after playing all of last season with an injury. Lieberman's key numbers and solid play in the TranSouth Conference tournament led to her being named to the all-tournament team. The other three juniors, Marcela Madeira, Kelsey Duling and Kacie Ritter, are all transfers from junior college programs. Madeira comes to Union from a very respectful and nationally recognized program at Jefferson (Mo.) Communitty College. Her athletic ability and her skills as both a powerful hitter and passer will carry the team to a new level. Duling comes to Union from Mt. San Antonio (Calif.) College. She will provide Union with another powerful hitter and passer that will help keep Union among the top offensive teams in the conference. Ritter comes to Union to join her former junior college teammate, Madeira. She brings a great defensive presence to Union with her great ball control and passing skills, as well as, the ability to be a setter should the need arise.

Anna Sims returns as the only sophomore on the roster. The former Alabama All-state player, had an outstanding freshman season at Union. Sims was an all-conference player, TranSouth Player of the Week, and led all freshmen in the conference in blocks.

Five freshmen make up the remainder of the roster as they begin their college volleyball careers at Union. Caroline Robbins transferred to Union from NCAA Division I University of Tennessee-Martin. Robbins missed her season last year due to injury and looks to get her college career off to a good start now that she is over her injury. She will add great blocking and attacking abilities with her tall frame. Shelby Swink brings blocking and attacking to the program. Her ability to put up a solid block and pound the ball will be a big asset for the Union program this season. Lauren Sprouse brings her defensive presence to the program with her passing and digging abilities. She also adds depth by being a hitter if the need should ever arise. Meagan Gipson brings her ability to be a strong defensive player and also another setter for our program. Holly Smith finishes out the freshman class by providing an additional defensive presence to the team, giving this squad many options on defense.

The 2009 season begins on Monday, August 24 in Athens, Tenn. in a tri-match with Tennessee Wesleyan College and Shorter (Ga.) College. In addition to playing an increasingly tough TranSouth Conference schedule, Union will play tournaments at NCAA DIII Milsaps (Miss.) and Rhodes (Tenn.). Union also plays in tournaments at NAIA powers Georgetown (Ky.) and Faulkner (Ala.). All of this is in preparation for the TranSouth Conference Tournament in Nashville, Tenn. where Union will try to defend their 2008 title. If Union is successful, a second straight trip to the national tournament, and third in program history, awaits the Lady Bulldogs.

Steven Aldridge
Phone: (731) 661-5027
Sports Information
Fax: (731) 661-5182

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