2014 Volleyball Preview: Middle Blockers
Aug. 20, 2014
TULSA, Okla. - As The University of Tulsa volleyball team enters its 2014 season with five middle blockers on the roster, senior Carly Boatwright, and juniors Ashley Hooper and Nicole Newton, will look to lead the group of middles into TU's inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference.
The rest of the middles include and sophomore Jaime Rahilly and true freshman Ebony Carter.
"I have been really happy with the growth of our middles in the preseason," said head volleyball coach Ryan Wills. "One of our things that our middles have as a whole is their athleticism. I think we are going to be a good blocking team because of how athletic that group is."
Boatwright is one of the three seniors for the Hurricane, and the most experienced in the middle of the net. In three seasons with the Golden Hurricane, she has recorded 232 total blocks (172 assisted, 60 solo), for an average of 0.73 blocks per set. She has also recorded 467 kills (1.47 k/s), 40 service aces and 180 digs (0.56 dig/s). Battling injury last season, she finished last season with 74 total blocks (53 assisted, 21 solo), 141 kills (1.60 k/s), and 49 digs. Boatwright, a two-time Conference USA All-Academic Team selection, is working her way back from injury early on in preseason.
"Carly's been working back from surgery," said Wills. "We're trying to get her on the floor as much as we can right now because she has a lot of experience. She's an awesome leader within the team
Hooper, a two-year letterwinner and a member of the C-USA All-Freshman Team in 2012, played in multiple positions for Tulsa in 2013. She moved to the outside to add depth a season ago, but will return to her natural position in 2014. In her career at TU, she has accumulated 135 total blocks (126 assisted, 9 solo), 380 kills (1.77 k/s) and 69 digs. Wills is excited to see Hooper perform this season.
"With Ashley, we expect some big things from her this season," Wills said. "If we can keep her in one position this season, her athleticism will allow her to produce kills at a high rate."
Netwon, a two-year letterwinner for the Golden Hurricane has played in 39 matches in her career. In her career with the Hurricane, she has accumulated 61 total blocks, (57 assisted, 4 solo), while tallying 118 kills (1.19 k/s) and has recorded 38 digs. Wills gave the junior high praise.
"Nicole is an unbelievable athlete. She has a physicality at the net that is impressive at times, so we're just trying to refine her game from a skills perspective. She has the potential to be one of the best blockers in program history if she continues to work at the rate she has been," Wills said.
The Tulsa native Rahilly redshirted her first year at TU. She adds size to the front line with her 6'2" frame. Rahilly was a three-year letterwinner in volleyball and a four-year letterwinner in basketball at Cascia Hall High School. She led her team to a state championship in volleyball in 2011 and 2012 and was the MVP for the Class 4A state tournament in `11 and again in the Class 5A tournament in `12. Rahilly was an all-state selection in 2012 and was named all-metro in both `11 and `12.
"Jaime's working hard everyday. She's long and at times she scores points in practice. When the ball is in her wheel house she does a great job with it."
Grant, a true freshman from Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School in Wichita, Kansas, was a four-year letterwinner in volleyball and a two-year letterwinner in swimming. She totaled 433 kills, 180 digs and 22 service aces, while leading her team to a 38-6 record her senior year. Grant was named both all-metro and all-state in both her junior and senior seasons, and was named first-team all-city all four years.
"Ebony is a great athlete that can get off the floor. More than anything we are trying to teacher her the game at the middle position for this level and try to catch her up. She has a ceiling that is extremely high," Wills stated.
Tune in Friday as we preview the defensive specialists and liberos.
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