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Volleyball jumps back into the 2002 season

Practice is in full effect as of this week for the Portland State volleyball team. The team is on the upswing from the last few seasons. They have made steady improvement in their jump up to Division I competition.

Last year was the first season the team had won a conference bout since 1998. Jeff Mozzochi hopes he can bring back his winning formula from the four NCAA Division II National Championships he won between 1984 and 1992.

The team brings back all six of its starters from last year along with a total of nine letter winners. To go with that core of players, there are eight new faces on the squad and one red shirt freshman from last year’s squad.

“Last year we were primarily an outside hitting team. This year we hope to spread it out more. To what degree, will depend on our ability to improve at all positions,” Mozzochi stated in a recent press release.

The coaches are counting on floor leadership from their three captains. Kristina Thom, a senior this season, will build on her numbers from last year averaging 3.17 kills and 2.33 digs per contest.

Stephanie Lavigne and Jessica Brook are the other two captains.

Lavigne, a sophomore, and Brock, a junior transfer, round out the core of three captains on the floor.

Other leaders on the team for 2002 are seniors Stacy Ball and Katie Young. Ball, a middle blocker returns to finish her senior season after averaging a team leading 2.76 digs per game and 63 total blocks on the year. Young, a defensive specialist, averaged 2.38 digs per game last season.

Also returning will be junior outside hitter, Richell Wilson who led the Big Sky Conference last year in kills per game with 4.24. Wilson received honorable mention All-Big Sky outside hitter and hopes to keep blasting teams this season.

Five of the newcomers to the Vikings are transfers.

Kathy Garbacz joins the team from the University of Arizona as a 6-foot-2 sophomore. Katie Kost is a 6-foot-4 transfer from North Caroline State; from Indiana State is freshman outside hitter Faune Drake. The other two transfers are Kaylene Munson from New Mexico State and Jatawn Batman from Lewis and Clark.

Munson is a 6-foot-2 sophomore middle blocker and the junior Batman is another middle blocker at 6-foot-1.

The first game for the Vikings is on Aug. 30 when they travel to the Chiles Center at the University of Portland for a preseason tournament, where they play Lousiana-Monroe, UTEP and finish with Portland in a two-day span.