The Lake Erie College Storm will open up the 2019 season in the Clarion University Tony Banner Memorial Tournament tomorrow.
This year marks the second year of head coach Kyle Peck's leadership. In his introductory season, he led the Storm to a 23-10 overall record with a Great Midwest record of 13-6 and run to the G-MAC semifinals in the postseason tournament. Storm volleyball graduated Crystal Kedroske and Alexis Thomas, an offensive pair that menaced opponents in the GLIAC and G-MAC for their collegiate careers.
The Storm was picked fifth in the 2019 Great Midwest Athletic Conference presented by Under Armour, behind Hillsdale, Findlay, Tiffin, and Walsh. Key returners include Moe Briggs, Hallie Zumack, Hailey Nielsen, Tashelle Piegan, and Maria Blatnik.
Moe Briggs: Coming off a season in which she was named first-team All-G-MAC, Moe Briggs returns for her final season of collegiate volleyball. Briggs brings nationally-ranked defense (featured top-25 throughout 2018 season in digs and digs per set) to the Storm volleyball squad in 2019. She also set the program record for single-season digs and finished second overall in the G-MAC with 685 total digs.
Hallie Zumack: Senior setter Hallie Zumack, a captain, brings lots of leadership to the Storm in 2019. Appearing in 122 sets and 33 matches, Zumack recorded 105 assists and 321 digs in her junior season.
Hailey Nielsen: Returning for her senior season as well is Hailey Nielsen. The right-side hitter averaged 3.06 kills per set, with a total of 379 kills as a junior. Additionally, Nielsen recorded three matches with a season and career-high 19 kills.
Tashelle Piegan: Piegan rounds out the 2019 senior volleyball class. Piegan appeared in 123 sets and 33 matches as a junior, leading the Storm in service aces (35) and was top-five on the team in digs (253).
Maria Blatnik: Maria Blatnik is coming off a stellar 2018 season, in which she was named Great Midwest Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year. Blatnik averaged 1,9 kills per set with a hitting percentage of .220 and 230 kills in 2018.
In addition to Briggs, Zumack, Nielsen, Piegan, and Blatnik, the Storm has added two power hitters to their roster. Carolin Santa comes to Lake Erie after two seasons spent at the College of Central Florida. Santa averaged 2.0 and 3.26 digs per set in her redshirt freshman season. Dora Olah, coming to Painesville from Hungary, will also be an offensive force for the Storm as a right-side hitter.
Head coach Kyle Peck is eager to get the 2019 season underway. "We've been practicing against each other for three weeks now.", said Peck. "It'll be great to finally compete against someone else. This is going to be a challenging weekend. All four teams we play are high-quality teams."
The Storm will take on Clarion University, Saginaw Valley, Pitt-Johnstown, and Davenport University this weekend. Listed below is a table comparing the matchups between the five teams based on 2018 statistics.
|School||Conference||Record||Conf. Record||Kills/Set||Assists/Set||Blocks/Set||Service Aces/Set||Digs/Set|
Lake Erie will face Clarion first on Thursday, Sept. 5 at 7pm. On Friday, Sept. 6 the Storm has two matches, the first against Saginaw at 11am, and then Pitt-Johnstown at 3pm. They will wrap up their first tournament of the year against Davenport on Saturday, Sept. 7 at 9am.
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