Tarleton volleyball receives preseason awards

COURTESY OF TARLETON STATE

STEPHENVILLE - Following a historic run to the NCAA South Central Regional semifinals last season, the reigning Lone Star Conference Tournament Champion Tarleton TexAnns were chosen to finish No. 2 in the league on the preseason polls announced Tuesday.

"I didn't have big expectations about the polls and it's exciting. I'm excited for the girls because they worked hard for this, but I really didn't have much expectation for this," said head coach Mary Schindler.

In addition to the highest preseason ranking in school history, TexAnn sophomore outside hitter Hailey Roberts was selected as the Preseason Offensive Player of the Year while Kenya Alexander claimed the Defensive Player of the Year honor.

"They're pretty good," said Schindler. "Hailey is super dynamic and, as good as she was last year, she's gotten so much better. She jumps well and hits the ball really hard. I'm excited for her. Kenya is still reaching her potential because she has only been playing for a short amount of time, but now she is going to be more excited and more confident. I can't wait. It's going to be fun for both of them."

Roberts will enter her sophomore season following an impressive collegiate debut, in which she was named the LSC Freshman of the Year as well as first-team all-LSC, first-team all-region, and third-team Daktronics All-American honors. She tallied 509 kills in her first season to go along with a team-high 602.5 points scored and 60 service aces while also leading the team with 17 double-doubles.

"It's honestly a blessing," said Roberts about her honor. "Coming out of my freshman year, this really helps motivate me heading into my sophomore year. As a team, we're going to have to push forward together. Last year, we did well but this is a new year and we're going to have to work together and continue to improve as a team."

The only team to finish ahead of the TexAnns in the poll was West Texas A&M with 19 first-place votes and 218 total votes while Tarleton received 186 total and five first-place nods.

Alexander, who transferred to Tarleton for her junior season, is the reigning LSC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the nation in blocks with 183. She was a first-team all-LSC and all-region selection and a three-time LSC Defensive Player of the Week as a junior.

"It was a big surprise and I really wasn't expecting it at all," said Alexander. "I know there are still things I need to work on to reach my full potential, but I am excited to get started. I have never been ready for two-a-days but I am so ready this year."

"West Texas A&M has repeatedly done what they do - and hopefully, we can start to repeat some things (within our program) as well," said Schindler. "This is a tough conference. Obviously, I think the girls will feel rewarded but at the same time have a chip on their shoulder so second is a good spot for us."

Angelo State, who fell to Tarleton in the LSC Tournament Championship last November, checked in at No. 3 in the rankings with 179 votes and one first-place nod.

Texas Woman's and Texas A&M-Kingsville checked in at No. 4 and 5, respectively, while Cameron, Texas A&M-Commerce, Eastern New Mexico, and Midwestern State rounded out the poll. Kingsville's Casey Klobedans rounded out the preseason awards after being named the LSC Preseason Setter of the Year.

Tarleton will open the 2015 season on September 4 in San Angelo against Chadron State at the Angelo State Invitational at 12 p.m.