Volleyball aims for redemption in fall season with new recruits

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Head Coach Jim Smoot and the coaching staff recruited eight players for the new season. They have addressed both offensive and defensive positions in the team. 
File Photo/The Lion’s Roar

Eight players have been added to the volleyball roster to represent the university as Lady Lions for the upcoming season.

Head Coach Jim Smoot describes his feelings regarding the recruiting process.

“We’re bringing in eight new players,” said Smoot. “There’s a pretty extensive process. We’re very excited about all the different players that are going to join us next year.”

Carthage, Texas, native Peyton “Alli” Capps is one of the recruits. Smoot believes that Capps will be a key player for the team next season.

“Alli Capps is a really good all-round player,” said Smoot. “We’re looking to put her to play in all six rotations. She’s very strong in all aspects of the game and essentially a really good add to our squad.”

Smoot describes his recruits who   are potential middle blockers in the upcoming season. 

“Samantha Gomez is very swift,” said Smoot. “She could be a middle blocker. We would like her to pop swings in our front row. Tempestt Vaughn, she’ll primarily be a middle blocker. A lot of potential, a very good player now, but she hasn’t even come close to reaching her potential.” 

Smoot also speaks about Alexandria “Lexie” Torres, who had a record of handing out 77 assists and averaging 3.78 digs per set in 2016, and Alexis Pratt, who is a three-time All-District and Academic All-District player at Memorial High School.

“We got two defensive specialists, Lexie Torres, who is a junior college transfer, and Alexis Pratt,” said Smoot. “Both are going, perhaps, straight into our defense. Both are excellent passers, excellent defensive players.”

Grayce Bateman, Michelle Mirachi and Marissa Calvaruso complete the recruits list this year. Each of them add a different dimension to the team. 

“Grayce Bateman is our tallest recruit,” said Smoot. “Michelle Mirachi is a great setter. We got her really late, which is really lucky for us. She’s an excellent setter, very quick on defense. A very exciting type of player. Our last one is Marissa Calvaruso. She’s a local player. She is ready to be a middle blocker, but we also think she’s very versatile to take any of the front row positions to help out with our attack.”

Smoot also discusses the returning players and about the leaders in the team for the season. 

“We have six very, very strong returning players, still young,” said Smoot. “We only have two juniors and no seniors. Macey Stock really is our main defensive person coming back. Her and Haley Baker want to be the captain. So, I’m looking for them to head up the leadership in the team.”

A few changes in the player’s positions can be expected in the upcoming season. Smoot points out some of the possible alterations he might make regarding the position of the Lady Lions.

“Elyssa Purcell is the other junior coming back,” said Smoot. “She was a setter and a hitter last year. But this year, she’s gonna concentrate on attacks on the right side. Savannah Alcazar was the starting middle blocker for us last year. Probably gonna have her be an outside attacker this year.” 

Smoot is happy with the composition of the team and how they are getting together.

“A really great thing is the group that’s coming in, we got some girls who are fun to be around, excited to be in Southeastern next year,” said Smoot. “The communication that’s been between them, between each other and the returners has been more than I’ve ever seen. I think we’re really gonna have a group that’s gonna have a lot of fun together.”

The volleyball season begins with the first home game, the Green and Gold Match, that will be held in the University Center on Aug. 22. The Samford Invitational will follow on Aug. 25. This game will be the first away game for the Lady Lions in Birmingham, Alabama. 

“It’s gonna be exciting,” said Smoot. “We’re a young team. I think we’re gonna make some major steps to improve our record from last year, so I’m really looking forward to it.”