August 20, 2013

Dalton State volleyball to serve up new era

Begins season today

Devin Golden

— The 15 women on the Dalton State College volleyball team are expected to be together for at least two seasons.

No matter the program’s record in its inaugural season, the Roadrunners have high hopes for the program’s future.

The DSC volleyball team begins its season at 7:30 tonight in Central, S.C., against the Southern Wesleyan University Warriors.

It’s a historic match for DSC. The game is the first sports event for DSC since school officials announced in February 2012 plans to relaunch athletics.

Wins and losses will mean little this season, DSC coach Bruna Langner said. A team made up of five juniors and the rest sophomores and freshmen has time to grow together and build a stable foundation for 2014, when the school expects to be part of a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics conference.

“They’re getting to know each other and will be together for at least two or three more years, so we are learning how to play together,” Langner said. “For the first year, I don’t care too much about results as far as wins and losses. I just want them to give everything on the court, and that will mean more this year than wins.”

Tori Pierce, a freshman defensive specialist (libero) from East Hamilton High School in Ooltewah, Tenn., agreed.

“I don’t think it’s more about the record,” Pierce said.

“We’re a first-year school and don’t have a conference, so we don’t have outside expectations from people. But for us, I want us to go out there and work hard every game. ... We have so many more years to grow.”

Still, winning would be nice, and the Roadrunners have 25 chances.

“To begin with, I was worried because we’re a first-year school and don’t have anything to build off of,” said Kailey Vaughn, a sophomore from Sonoraville High School in Calhoun. “There’s no bar set already. My expectations have been blown away. We have a great team and great skill level.”

The schedule includes seven home matches, with the first on Thursday, Sept. 19, against Reinhardt University. With Bandy Gymnasium still being renovated, the Roadrunners will play most, if not all, of their home matches at either Dalton High School or the Mack Gaston Community Center, a Dalton Parks and Recreation Department facility at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Fredrick Street.

“We can’t wait for our first home match to see the town (come out),” Langner said.

The Roadrunners will use a 5-1 formation with two setters rotating in for one another. This strategy keeps a setter on the back row at all times and allows for three hitters to command the front-row spots. The setter is basically the quarterback of the team’s offense, directing the ball to the player with the best chance to score points, usually the hitters.

Michala Askew and Clarissa Weber, both juniors, are the setters. Juniors Cassie Cochran and Daniela Molinar, both outside hitters from Dalton, are featured in the lineup. Cochran attended Northwest Whitfield High School and Molinar went to Dalton High School. Langner also expects another junior, Alyne Bianchi, to be a key contributor.

“Every time a setter is on the back row and going to the front row, we’ll switch them out with a hitter and then pull someone on the back row for another setter,” Langner said.

“We always have three hitters on the front row and also have a hitter on the back row attacking. We have more hitters and more blockers.”