Volleyball set for Lady Buff Classic

UNA’s volleyball team prepares for a scrimmage game against Gadsden State, Sunday at Flowers Hall.

With preseason out of the way and an encouraging second finish pick in the Preseason All-GSC coaches’ poll, UNA volleyball has high hopes for its upcoming games in the West Texas A&M Lady Buff Classic.

“The team has been working extremely hard to improve through preseason, and we still have a lot of work to do,” Head Coach Stephanie Radecki said.

The Lions, finishing with an overall record of 24-10 last season, will open their 2012 season Aug. 31 facing Western State, who finished with an overall record of 6-20 in 2011.

Having lost six lettermen after the 2011 season, the Lions had quite a few spots to fill. Senior offensive hitter Priscilla Massengale, recently selected on the 2012 All-GSC Team, shared a few thoughts concerning this year’s team.

“I genuinely feel like we’ll play really well this year,” Massengale said. “We have excellent communication. Sure, we lost four seniors, but the freshmen and transfers have especially stepped up and came in prepared.”

The Lions will also encounter West Texas A&M in the upcoming classic. West Texas, finishing with an overall record of 34-3 in 2011, was recently ranked ninth in the AVCA Division II Coaches Top 25 Preseason Poll.

“West Texas has a very energetic atmosphere as a volleyball-only facility and, with that, a committed volleyball community that shows strong support,” Radecki said.

Radecki said she believes that it will be an amazing atmosphere for the girls to open their season with.

Sept. 1 the Lions will take on Adams State and Eastern New Mexico University. Adams State, finishing with an overall record of 19-9 last season, was selected as the top pick in the Western Division 2012 RMAC Volleyball Preseason Coaches’ Poll. Adams State’s Gabriella Rifilato, junior setter, was selected as the RMAC Preseason Setter of the Year and senior offensive hitter Dominique Davis holds a spot on the 2012 RMAC Preseason All-Conference Team. Eastern New Mexico finished the 2011 season with a 6-24 overall record.

UNA junior setter Caroline Neisler feels that the team is more than ready to play.

“We had a tough preseason, but I think it served as great preparation,” Neisler said.

Neisler, selected in the 2011 All-GSC 2nd Team and awarded a 2011 Academic All-GSC spot, averaged 5.89 aces per game last season. One strength of UNA volleyball, which Neisler continues to encourage, is the mindset to play to win.

“We’re all just really excited to start the season,” she said. “The upcoming teams ought to be good, but I’m confident that we can compete.”