August 19, 2010

OPPOSITE HITTER POSITION A KEY SPOT FOR ISLANDER VOLLEYBALL

The Texas A&M-Corpus Christi volleyball team is sitting in a good position when it comes to the opposite hitter spot on the court. A weakness a year ago, it has become a strength with the addition of both returning players and newcomers poised to see action.

The returning player that saw the most action from last year is sophomore Shannon Hullum. She should have a much stronger season with a year under her belt.

"Shannon played the position most of the time last year and she was a little up-and-down," said head coach Tony Graystone. "That's kind of to be expected with a girl who was really going through her freshman year. She was just coming into her first season of really being active.

"She had a good spring and was a lot more consistent. She had a lot more on the ball and her block is better. She is a very hungry. She wants to be out there all the time and is very driven."

In addition to Hullum, junior outside hitter Jessica Korda has seen some time there as well with her natural mechanics lending to the position.

"We have also been working Korda out there quite a bit. That gives us another look and Jessica has a big right arm," said Graystone. "It's a nice option to have a right-handed and a left-handed weak-side hitter just to give teams a different look. Depending on how we want to attack the defense, it'll really help us out.

"We've got two nice options with experienced returning players, last year that was not a very strong position for us. We think this year it will be pretty nice."

If Korda can play the position it will help make room at the outside hitter spot where talented newcomer Isabella Arcidiacono waits in the wings to see time on the court.

"When Emma and Korda are in the front row together that's a pretty nice rotation, but with the way Korda naturally swings at the ball it kind of lends itself to being an opposite hitter," said Graystone. "So we started doing that a little bit in the spring.

"Also, when you get a player like Isabella come in on the outside, eventually she is going to need to be on the court. If we can get all three of them on the court together then we think our offense is going to look pretty good."

Newcomer Sarah Sanchez has also been playing the position as she tries to find the best fit on the court for her skills.

"Sarah has been training in the front row, she is a really versatile player," said Graystone. "I don't know where she is going to end up eventually or where her best position is at the college level.

"For right now she has been getting a lot of reps in the middle because we are a little banged up there, but she also is playing a lot on the right side."

The Islanders continue practice this week before starting the season next Friday in Starkville, Miss. against Montana at the Mississippi State Maroon Classic.