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The Georgetown College volleyball team returns four all-conference players from a season ago as the Tigers look to recapture their place atop the Mid-South Conference after falling in the championship match the past two seasons.
"There's a buzz amongst the players and staff entering the 2012 season," said coach Nick Griffin. "With a solid core of returners and another outstanding recruiting class, we have big goals for ourselves. The biggest keys for us will be staying healthy and how quickly our freshmen adjust to the college game."
While the team will lean on its youth at several key positions, it is a pair of seniors that will shoulder the leadership role for the Tigers. Captains Rebekah Moore and Lindsey Wise return for their final season to anchor the defense and serve receive. The two were freshmen when GC made the remarkable run to the national championship game.
"These are two very determined seniors," Griffin said. "From their offseason preparation to their efforts to unify the team, there's no doubt what goals Bekah and Lindsey have for this season."
The defensive duo will be aided by the return of three sophomore hitters who combined to lead the Tigers in every offensive category in 2011. All-MSC performers Rachel Eubanks and Caraline Maher and MSC Co-Freshman of the Year Allyson Wilbourn will be looked upon to provide the offensive spark.
"Ally, Rachel and Caraline give us three dynamic hitters who can dominate any match," Griffin said. "All three had terrific springs and will be complimented by our other returning hitters and strong incoming class. It'll be exciting to see who will emerge amongst our hitters during preseason."
With the graduation of setter Liz Goodin, the reigns of the Tiger offense will fall to sophomore Stephanie Gurren or freshman Lindsey Martindale. Gurren teamed with Goodin for almost 15 matches in a two-setter offense; then led GC during the spring season. Martindale, a decorated setter from Texas, lead her AVA club team to a Top 25 finish at the USAV National Championships.
"Stephanie and Lindsey bring different dynamics to the setting position, but their incredible leadership ability is the common thread between them," Griffin said. "The coaching staff's job during preseason is to see what offense best fits our personnel and team dynamic."
The 2012 season will see the Tigers travel throughout Kentucky and also to Michigan, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee. As always their schedule will be one of the toughest in the NAIA with nine matches against teams that advanced to the national tournament. Fifteen of their opponents also received votes in the national poll.
Georgetown opens the 2012 campaign at a familiar place in Dearborn, Michigan at the Early Bird Invitational in late August. GC will play four matches, highlighted by battles with Madonna and Indiana Tech.
The Tigers open their home matches at the 3rd Annual Rumpke Invitational when Union, Shawnee State and St. Andrews converge on the Davis-Reid Alumni Gym the second weekend of September. The month also features the Holiday Inn Express Tournament at Olivet Nazarene University and a home match against rival and defending conference champion Lindsey Wilson.
October begins with an away match against rival Campbellsville University before the Tigers settle into the second wave of MSC divisional play. The 7th Annual Boneyard Brawl will close out the month with a tournament field consisting of eight teams which participated in the 2011 NAIA National Tournament. GC finishes the regular season at LWC and home against CU on senior night.
"Our schedule will give us consistent opportunities to test ourselves against the NAIA's best, but our first few weeks and the last two should be our most challenging stretches," Griffin said. "The MSC has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years, with five teams this past year receiving votes at one time or another. I'm preparing our team for a dog fight all season."