With seven experienced players returning and talented incoming freshman, Lakeland Community College volleyball is poised to bounce back in 2017 after a challenging 2016.
The Lakers went 10-14 in 2016 but fifth-year coach Russ Miozzi believes that his team has the right mixture of experience and youthful talent to improve dramatically this season.
"We have a ton of returning talent and the new girls coming in are going to be strong," Miozzi said. "I expect this team to be very scrappy and if we come together I feel like it could be a special season."
The Lakers will have their main setter returning in Caitlin Cipriano (Solon) as she earned 320 assists last season and hustles all around the court. Libero and defensive specialist Brittney O'Hara (Sandusky) was fourth on the team with 111 kills in 2016 and has the ability to move on to a four-year school after her sophomore season.
At outside hitter, Cary Morin (Burton) was second on the team with 189 kills in 2016 and has shown improvement in her sophomore season. Krista Curtis (Willoughby) played for Lakeland in 2014 and was second on the team with 340 kills but had had to come back from a knee injury for her delayed return in 2017.
Allison Lister (Geneva) will be a libero and defensive specialist in 2017 but served as a setter at times last season and earned 195 assists. Alissa Quick (Dayton) earned 76 kills last year and will contribute this season as will Tamea Scott (Richmond Heights) at the outside hitter position. Lister and Quick was last year's Shannon Lee McBride Memorial Scholarship winners.
The talented newcomers are Iesha Niciu (Ashtabula), Lauryn Mitchell (Cleveland) and Morgan Smart (Perry). Niciu is a raw talent that will only get better with more experience, Mitchell will help out as a middle blocker while Smart will play the weak side for the Lakers.
"Our strength this season is our defense and our ability to keep balls off the floor," Miozzi said.
If Lakeland is able to get stronger at hitting the ball at the net then this could turn into a special season.
"I am excited about this team and to see them come together because they work really hard in practice," Miozzi said.
Lakeland opens the season on the road against Sinclair Community College on Aug. 25 at 6 p.m.
For more information about Lakeland athletics, visit www.athletics.lakelandcc.edu.
About Lakeland Community College
Founded in 1967, Lakeland Community College was the first college in Ohio created by a vote of the people. True to our mission, Lakeland provides quality learning opportunities to meet the social and economic needs of the community.
Offering day, evening, weekend and online classes, the college serves more than 10,800 credit and 2,800 noncredit students (2016). For more information about the College, visit www.lakelandcc.edu.