ELON, N.C. – The Elon volleyball begins its 2015 campaign this weekend at the Radford/Virginia Tech Invite. The Phoenix takes on Washington State on Friday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. in Radford, Va., in its season opener. On Saturday, Aug. 29, the maroon and gold faces the hosts with a match against the Hokies at noon in Blacksburg, Va., before returning to Radford to take on the Highlanders at 7 p.m.
Elon returns nine players from the 2014 season, including a trio of seniors in Megan Gravley, Catherine Head and Ana Nicksic. Juniors Kayla Agae, Ally Karle and experienced libero Morgan Maner all have seen significant playing time in the past two years. Sydney Busa, a Preseason All-CAA Honorable Mention selection, leads the sophomore class that includes Sydel Curry and Michelle Klein.
All four of Elon’s top offensive players in kills and kills per set from last season – Busa, Agae, Gravley and Karle – return to the court for the maroon and gold. While Nicksic and Curry bring experience to the setter position.
The Phoenix defense sees the return of Maner to the libero position and a strong team block in 2015, which is led by Head, who averaged 1.15 blocks per set a year ago.
The Phoenix welcomes six newcomers to this year’s squad. Ebony Scott joins the junior class after spending two seasons at Michigan State. Five freshmen – Maddie Jaudon, Erin Kelly, Alexa Pavlick, Kam Terry and Rox Wood – round out the 2015 team.
Elon vs. Washington State
The season opener will be the first time the Phoenix and the Cougars have faced one another on the volleyball court.
Elon vs. Virginia Tech
The match against the Hokies marks only the third all-time meeting between the two programs. VT owns the series, 2-0, with the last match coming on Sept. 11, 2004, in the form of a 3-0 win.
Elon vs. Radford
Saturday marks the 23rd match between Elon and Radford with the Highlanders holding the series advantage, 14-8. The Phoenix won the last meeting, 3-2, on Sept. 18, 2013, in Alumni Gym. Senior Megan Gravley finished the match with a match-high 17 kills, while senior Ana Nicksic tallied a season-high 50 assists.
Head Coach Mary Tendler
Elon head coach Mary Tendler is in her 13th season with the Phoenix program. She enters this weekend’s tournament with a 191-201 Elon and career coaching record.
Elon in Season Openers
Since joining the Division I ranks, Elon has gone 8-8 in season openers over the last 16 years.
There are two native Virginians on the 2015 Elon roster. Junior Ebony Scott is from Powhatan, Va., about three hours from the Radford/Blacksburg area, while sophomore Sydney Busa grew up closer to the Washington, D.C., area about 230 miles away in Leesburg, Va.
There’s one Elon player with a specific connection to Virginia Tech as the Phoenix play in Blacksburg, Va., on Saturday. Sophomore Sydel Curry is the daughter of two Hokie alumni – Del and Sonya Curry. Both were collegiate athletes at VT with her father playing basketball and her mother a member of the Hokie volleyball team.
Elon assistant coach Jennifer Fry spent the 2010 volleyball season as an assistant coach and chief recruiter at Washington State.
Elon Phoenix Classic
On Friday, Sept. 4 – Saturday, Sept. 5, the Phoenix hosts its annual Elon Phoenix Classic in Alumni Gym. The maroon and gold will welcome local teams in North Carolina Central and Wake Forest, as well as Charleston Southern. The round-robin tournament will see the Phoenix face the Bucs on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. followed by the Eagles on Sept. 5 at 12:30 p.m. with the finale match on that same evening against the Demon Deacons at 7 p.m.
Elon continues nonconference play with its next match against local rival High Point on Tuesday, Sept. 1. The Phoenix and the Panthers will square off in High Point, N.C., in the Millis Center at 7 p.m.