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2013 VOLLEYBALL PREVIEW PART 2: MIDDLE BLOCKERS

Tulsa volleyball returns four middle blockers including senior Miriele Gobbo
Tulsa volleyball returns four middle blockers including senior Miriele Gobbo
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Aug 23, 2013

Tulsa, Okla. - The most experience on the University of Tulsa volleyball team is the middle blocker position as four players return.

Senior Miriele Gobbo, one of two seniors on the team, returns for her third season with the Golden Hurricane.

Gobbo played in 17 matches, started 11, and played in 47 sets last season. The Curitiba, Brazil native had 63 kills, a .231 hitting percentage and 29 total blocks.

"She had a stretch of about five practices when we were doing scrimmages, where she didn't make any hitting errors," TU head coach Steven McRoberts said. "That's going to be big for us is that we get a lot of production out of the middle this year."

Junior Carly Boatwright returns for her third season. Last season, Boatwright played in 32 of the 36 matches, starting 28 matches, and played in 107 sets.

The Parker, Colo., native had 153 kills and was second on the team with 76 total blocks and with a 0.71 blocks per set. Boatwright led the team with 16 solo blocks.

"In the last two or three days, she has really started to come on especially offensively," McRoberts said. "I expect to see her on the court quite a bit this year again."

The two other returners are both sophomores - Ashley Hooper and Nicole Newton.

Hooper was named on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team last season. Hooper played in 32 matches, 30 starts, and 109 sets.

The Lewisville, Texas native had 196 kills, which led the middle blockers, a hitting percentage of .249. Hooper led the team with 82 total blocks, 75 block assists and a 0.75 blocks per set.

 

 

"She was kind of hampered early," McRoberts said. "I think the first or second practice of the year, she got hit on a block on her thumb and that's been a reoccurring injury."

Newton played in 15 matches, had three starts, and played in 29 sets. Netwon had 23 kills, a hitting percentage of .264 and a 0.51 blocks per set.

"Nicole Newton has had a great offseason and preseason," McRoberts said. "She's had a great jump up in her ability offensively. She's always been a great blocker. But we've been pleased as a coaching staff how she's come along offensively. Seems to be bouncing back a whole lot quicker when she makes mistakes.

"Last year, coming in and getting her head down and it costing her another point or two. She's gotten stronger. She's gotten mentally stronger and she's doing a great job for us."

Newcomer Jaime Rahilly enters the program as a freshman. Rahilly was a three-year letterwinner in volleyball at Cascia Hall High School and a four-year letterwinner in basketball.

The Tulsa, Okla., native led her team to a state championship in 2011 and 2012. Rahilly was named the MVP of the Class 4A state tournament in 2011 and earned Tournament MVP honors of the Class 5A tournament in 2012.

"She's learning a lot," McRoberts said. "One day I had to stop her and say hey don't get so frustrated. You're going up against four players that have a couple of years under their belt with a lot of this training in our system."

As a group, McRoberts did not lose a player at the middle blocking position during the offseason.

"The middle is the hardest position to play in college," McRoberts said. "You're involved in every block and you're suppose to be involved in every offensively play. It's nice to have that group back."

The Golden Hurricane hits the court Saturday for the Blue-Gold scrimmage at 4 p.m. in Donald W. Reynolds Center.

About a week later, TU hits the road for its first three regular season matches in Dayton, Ohio in the Dayton Invitational. Tulsa plays against the host No. 22 Flyers on Friday, Aug. 30 at 6 p.m. TU finishes the tournament with a match against Missouri State at 9:30 a.m. and Northeastern at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The volleyball team opens the 2013 home campaign with a midweek match against cross-town rival Oral Roberts on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.

For all Tulsa volleyball news and information, visit www.TulsaHurricane.com. Follow Tulsa Athletics on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/TulsaHurricane and Facebook at www.facebook.com/TulsaHurricane. Follow Tulsa Volleyball on Twitter (www.twitter.com/TulsaVolleyball) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/TulsaVolleyball).