Volleyball Begins Practice For 2012 Campaign

Aug. 7, 2012

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - The San Diego State volleyball opens practice for its 2012 campaign on Wednesday, Aug. 8, with just over two weeks to prepare for its season opener. The Aztecs return 11 players including five starters and the libero from last year's squad that finished 18-10 overall and 10-4 (second place) in the Mountain West.

Leading the returnees are a pair of seniors in middle blocker Andrea Hannasch and libero Kristi Jackels. Hannasch earned honorable mention All-America honors as a junior in 2011as well as all-West Region and all-Mountain West accolades. She finished among the top 10 in the conference in kills, hitting percentage, blocks and points. Jackels was fourth in digs among conference players last week and her career total ranks fourth in the SDSU record book.

Joining that duo are fellow starters Johnna Fouch (setter) and Raegan Shelton (outside hitter) plus middle blocker Emily Harris. Both Fouch and Shelton earned all-conference honors last season with Fouch led the Mountain West in assists for the second straight year and Shelton finishing among the top 10 in the league in kills. Harris, meanwhile, was among the league leaders in blocks (sixth overall and third in conference matches).

Among the other returning players are outside hitters Summer Nash and Chaiymin Steel. Nash finished the 2011 season ranked third on the team in kill average while Steel came off the bench in over half of the team's sets and averaged just under two kills and better than one dig per set.

Also back are defensive specialists Kyla Oropeza, Courtney Vaccarello, Christie Ring and Justine Ricigliano. The first three all contributed to the Aztecs' success in 2011 while Ricigliano used her redshirt year last season.

Among the new faces are three transfers from four-year schools who will add depth at their respective positions. That trio includes sophomore setter Chloe Mathis (Arizona) and sophomore outside hitter Michelle Waber (Hawai'i) plus OH/RS Halle Aiken, who redshirted as a freshman at UC Santa Barbara during the 2011 season. Mathis and Waber were both named to their league's All-Freshman team in their first season of collegiate competition.

Rounding out the 2012 squad is a trio of freshman from outside the state of California. That threesome includes recruited setter Tanna Aljoe (Grapevine HS, Grapevine, Texas), middle blocker Kaja Sandberg (Desert Ridge HG, Mesa, Ariz.) and outside hitter Ellen Novotny (Houston HS, Germantown, Tenn.). Aljoe and Sandberg were named to the honorable mention all-state team while Novotny picked up all-Region and regional Player of the Year honor.

"I am excited to enter into my fourth season here at San Diego State, commented Head coach Deitre Collins-Parker. "We have a great group of returners and a very talented group of new-comers. Practices will be intense and it will be a battle for starting roles throughout the lineup.

"I'm very pleased with the growth of our players as they have been working hard all spring and summer both in the weight room and in the gym. This season we will be facing one of the most challenging schedules yet against top ranked teams and our players will be ready for battle."

San Diego State opens its 2012 season on Friday, August 24, as it hosts the annual Aztec Invitational at Aztec Court in Peterson Gym. SDSU kicks off the season with a match vs. Delaware that evening at 7:00 p.m. and will also have a contest the following day (Saturday Aug. 25) against California at 7:00 p.m.

Fans wanting an early preview of this year's squad are invited in an intersquad scrimmage on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m. on Aztec Court in Peterson Gym.