Tornados ready to begin 2011 season on the courts

Brevard look to the new year with optimism with experience returning

Brevard, N.C. - The Tornados come into the 2011 season looking to bounce back after a season of growth as Brevard returns all but one player from last season’s squad that fought through a tough year in their third season as members of the NCAA Division II and the South Atlantic Conference.

Coach Brenda Skeffington achieved her 500th career victory last season and looks to add on to her total this year with a mostly youthful squad as the Tornados lost only graduating senior libero Rebecca Schoonover this past season.

Brevard features four seniors on this year’s team, including 2011 preseason All-SAC Second Team middle blocker Jordei Osby. Osby led the team and finished second in the South Atlantic Conference in 2010, averaging 1.03 blocks per game and currently sits fifth on the all-time list in total blocks for the team and will look to provide leadership at the net.

Senior outside hitter Ashlie Morrison also returns after finishing second on the team in kills while leading the team in hitting percentage, and has stepped up her play in the preseason, looking to make an impact in her final season.

Seniors Cassie Smatana and Lindsey Rogers will both look to provide a defensive presence on the backline for Brevard as Smatana was consistent across the board for the Tornados in the 2010 season. Rogers is among the players fighting to fill the vacant libero position in her senior season and her determination and leadership both on and off the court, as well as the ability to play multiple positions will be an asset for Brevard in the coming season.

Jamie Atkinson, Kortney Conner, Erin Rollins, Ashley Wilson, Joy Oswalt and Sawyer Gray all return to play at the net for the Tornados. Atkinson, named captain by Coach Skeffington in the preseason, has performed at an elite level for Brevard, covering all positions on the court in her two seasons with the Tornados. She looks to take the next step in her game this year after finishing third on the team in kills, hitting percentage and set assists, and second on the team in total blocks, as well as providing a positive force on the team while on the court.

Conner looks to continue her success while improving her hitting percentage in the 2011 season after leading the Tornados with 221 kills in the 2010 campaign and has steadily worked to improve her overall game to contribute all over the court. Rollins finished third on the team in blocks last season as a true freshman and looks to expand her game as well, as she fights for playing time in the increasingly crowded middle for the Tornados. Ashley Wilson, Joy Oswalt and Sawyer Gray will also challenge for playing time, bringing diverse sets of skills to the net as they look to contribute to the Tornados season. Erin Cox also returns after splitting time last season at setter and outside hitter. The left-handed hitter will provide a change-of-pace to the Tornados attack and has proven adept at hitting down the lines in her preseason appearances.

Setter Bethany Stevenson returns to lead the Tornados attack, having worked hard in the offseason on her placement, as well as her service game. Stevenson, who sits fourth all-time in the BC record books in set assists, has been the setter since day one in her time at Brevard and her experience will pay off this season as the Tornados look to return to the SAC tournament, having fallen short last season.

On the backline, Sydney Yeomans and Amanda Possidente all return for the Tornados. Yeomans is among those in a battle for the libero position after finishing second on the team in digs last season, averaging 2.00 per game. The junior provides a steady hand on the backline and will look to provide leadership for the young team. Possidente also returns after limited action last season and has shown she can contribute to the team when her number is called, having recorded several digs last season in key situations.

Newcomers Taryn Gmitroski and Megan Meyer will also battle for playing time for the Tornados in the 2011 season. Gmitroski, a Victoria, British Columbia, Canada native, displayed an impressive acumen of the game in preseason work, and will be an impact player in the front row rotation in her freshman year. Meyer, a defensive specialist, has also turned some heads with her play in the preseason, and is among those in the battle for playing time on the back row.

The Tornados begin the 2011 season on the road in Charlotte, N.C. as they participate in the JCSU Volleyball tournament hosted by Johnson C. Smith University. The Tornados begin the regular season on Sept. 2 as they take on tournament host Johnson C. Smith at noon.

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