Aug. 11, 2006
Auburn, Ala. -
The Auburn volleyball team concluded its first week of preparation for the 2006 season on Thursday evening after three consecutive two-a-day workouts. Head coach Laura Farina welcomed five newcomers to the 2006 squad that also boasts eight returning members.
"The team has worked very hard in two-a-day sessions," Farina said. "As we finished practice last night many of our newcomers finally became more comfortable and were able to show their skills on the court and able to play the game at a more comfortable level."
The Tigers will be led this year by senior's Julie Bosler and Dalia Naidzinaviciute and junior's Whitney Jacob, Jelena Sekulic and Rachel Shanks. Bosler, a 6-3 middle blocker, put together 30 solo blocks in 2005 to lead the team. In all, she combined for 88 total blocks and led AU for the third straight year in BPG.
"I am really impressed with the work ethic of all of our players," Farina said. "They are coming in early, doing a lot of serving and passing on their own. The setters are coming in early and getting in extra training. Just the level of commitment has risen from last year. There is just a new feel in the gym; it is a can-do attitude."
Shanks, a 5-10 outside hitter, leads the returning group with 248 kills on 733 attempts and put together seven double-double performances in 2005. Her 2.85 KPG and 3.03 DPG were both second on the team last year. Jacob, a 6-0 middle blocker, started every contest last year and put together a .257 hitting percentage, second on the team, with 205 kills.
"I am really impressed with Rachel Shanks and Whitney Jacob's consistency," Farina noted. "Their work ethic has been very good. Their attitude has been very constant and steady. That has allowed some of our other players to also excel."
With the addition of five freshmen: Sloane Bâby, Whitney Hobbs, Emily Knuth, Chelaine McCarty and Kaitlin Simon, the Tigers will have competition for starting spots in 2006.
"We haven't settled on a lineup yet. We are still working players in and out of the outside and getting a feel for the various positions and roles that each person can play and how they are going to contribute this year," Farina said.
The Tigers have assembled another strong schedule, with seven teams that advanced to the 2005 NCAA Tournament, two of which made it to the round of eight. The slate includes three pre-conference tournaments, including the annual Auburn/Mizuno Challenge.
Auburn opens the season in Dallas, Texas, at the SMU Invitational on Aug. 25-26.