SMU volleyball start 2016 season strong

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SMU Volleyball begin the season strong after last year’s conference win. Photo credit: SMU Athletics

SMU Volleyball opened up its regular season on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 with a runner-up finish at the DoubleTree Classic in Moody Coliseum.

The team played its first match Friday at 12:30 p.m., sweeping past Montana 3-0. The players went on to play UTSA at 7 p.m. After losing the first set, the team came back to win the second. Unfortunately, it could not continue the comeback and lost in four sets.

On Saturday, in its final match, the Mustangs beat Arkansas-Little Rock 3-0 and finished the tournament in second place.

Redshirt junior Katie Hagerty, who scored a career-high 23 kills in the match against Arkansas-Little Rock, received all-tournament honors. Senior and team captain Morgan Heise was named the Best Libero.

The Mustangs also celebrated its 2015 American Athletic Conference win, a first for the program, with a banner unveiling before the match on Friday night and a ceremony in the Miller Event Center at the conclusion of the tournament on Saturday.

During the ceremony, members of the 2015 AAC Championship team received their highly sought-after conference rings. Graduated senior all-conference team members Avery Acker, Cailin Bula and Abbey Bybel were also honored. Avery Acker was the first member of the SMU team to be named conference player of the year.

Last year was an exceptional year for the team. It achieved a record 27 wins with only six losses. On its way to becoming the AAC Champions, it went an impressive 17-3 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

This year, the SMU volleyball team returns all-conference team members, Janelle Giordano and Morgan Heise. It also adds five freshmen, one at every position, to the already talented team.

“This is one of the largest classes we have ever brought to the Hilltop,” AAC Coach of the year Lisa Seifert stated in an SMU Athletics press release. “While they are all very talented in their respective positions, the thing I am most excited about is that they understand and fit the program’s culture. Needless to say, they will make a huge impact in our gym.”

SMU will be on the road for the next few weeks and will not play at home again until conference matches begin Sept. 22 when the defending champions will play East Carolina.

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