Aztecs Gearing Up for 2013 Volleyball Season
Aug 16, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The San Diego State volleyball team has received votes in the 2013 AVCA preseason poll as it prepares for its upcoming campaign. The Aztecs return 14 players including five starters from last year's squad that captured its first-ever Mountain West championship, finishing 23-8 overall and 13-3 in conference play.
Leading the returnees is a pair of seniors in setter Johnna Fouch and outside hitter Raegan Shelton. Fouch was selected the 2012 Mountain West Setter of the Year for the second straight season and earned all-West region and honorable mention AVCA All-America honors. Shelton, meanwhile, was an all-conference selection after leading the Aztecs in kills and finishing among the top 10 in the Mountain West in both kills and points.
Joining that duo are fellow starting outside hitters Michelle Waber and Chaiymin Steel plus middle blocker Emily Harris. Waber was named the 2012 conference Newcomer of the Year in her first season at SDSU. Steel averaged just under two kills and one block per set while Harris was among the league leaders in blocks and hitting percentage.
Among the other returning players are outside hitter Summer Nash and setter Chloe Mathis. Nash finished the 2012 season ranked second on the squad in kill average while Mathis saw substantial playing time before an injury ended her season after 15 matches. Outside hitter Halle Aiken saw action in 27 of the team's 31 matches a year ago and will be joined by Ellen Novotny, another outside hitter who redshirted as a true freshman last season. Middle blocker Kaja Sandberg returns after seeing limited action as a freshman in 2012.
Also back are defensive specialists Kyla Oropeza, Courtney Vaccarello, Christie Ring and Justine Ricigliano. Vaccarello could move into the starting libero spot vacated by the Kristi Jackels, a four-year starter at the position. Oropeza, Ricigliano and Ring will also see action on the back line.
Among the new faces are five freshmen and one transfer who will add depth at their respective positions. The freshman class includes outside hitter Alexis Cage and middle blockers Baylee Little and Cassie O'Hara. Little (Highland HS; Gilbert, Ariz.) and O'Hara (Victor (N.Y.) HS) both earned all-state honors while Cage (Corona del Mar HS; Newport Beach, Calif.) garnered second-team all-league honors and was a scholar-athlete on her league championship team.
The other incoming freshmen include defensive specialists Danielle Bolden and Alexa Saba. The 5-5 Bolden (Capistrano Valley HS; Mission Viejo, Calif.) was an outside hitter in high school and was named the Seaview League co-player of the year. Saba (Hamilton HS; Chandler, Ariz.) was the district player of the year as a libero during her senior season.
Rounding out the 2012 squad is middle blocker Jessica Pino, a transfer from UC Santa Barbara who did not play volleyball for the Gauchos in 2012. A native of Temecula, Calif. (Chaparral HS), signed with UCSB to play basketball and appeared in three games during the 2012-13 campaign. As a high school senior in Temecula, Pino was a first-team all-league and second-team all-valley selection as a volleyball player.
San Diego State gets its 2013 season underway in two weeks when it travels to Baton Rouge, La., for the Tiger Classic at LSU. The Aztecs open with a match against UC Davis on Friday, Aug. 30, at 4:00 p.m. (CT) and will take on Texas-San Antonio and the host school the following day. The home opener comes two weeks later when SDSU will face Harvard on Friday, Sept 13, in the opening match of the annual Aztec Invitational on Aztec Court in Peterson Gym..
Fans can get an early look at the 2013 Aztec volleyball squad when it hosts an informal scrimmage against a number of former players on Friday, Aug. 23 at 6:00 p.m. on Aztec Court.