The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Volleyball looks to bounce back from injury plagued 2007

After finishing with sub .500 records in the last four seasons, the SMU women’s volleyball team is looking to make a big jump in the Conference USA standings this fall.

Head coach Linda Seifert said the key is to stay injury free, which the Mustangs have been unable to do over the last few years.

Last fall, the Mustangs started 6-0, including a victory over the Big 12’s Texas Tech Red Raiders, but fizzled late in the season to finish ninth in the conference.

A big reason for the sudden decline, according Seifert, was the loss of senior Rachel Giubilato, who is now graduated. Giubilato led the team in aces and was second in digs during her junior year, but underwent season-ending knee surgery early last fall.

“People often don’t see the story behind the story,” said Seifert. “People say, ‘Oh, you only went 17-15 last year,’ but with a depth chart of only about 12 players, one or two injuries really hurts you.”

The Mustangs went into last season with four seniors and are much younger this season. They return senior Natalie Peters, who was second on the team in kills and third in blocks last season, and all-conference player Kathryn Wilkerson, who led the team in double-doubles as a freshman.

“With a senior, you can’t take away the passion and the knowledge they have for the game,” said Seifert. “I expect Kathryn Wilkerson to be a good leader.”

Four incoming freshmen, three from the Lone Star State, figure to play a role. Outside hitter Jessica Oliver, from Plano, will be the third tallest player on the team (6-foot-1-inch) and will be joined on the outside by Dana Powell (6-0) and Sidney Stewart (5-10). Kelli Becerra, from Austin, joins the Mustangs as a setter.

The Mustangs open the season Aug. 29 at the Baylor Invitational in Waco and play their first home game Aug. 30 against Texas-Arlington. They will make trips to Oxford, Miss., and Denver before starting the conference schedule.

Coach Seifert has been with the Mustangs since the program started in 1996. Her teams are a combined 163-172 since then, and the Mustangs are 46-46 since joining Conference USA in 2005.

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