McNeese Volleyball has their first practice

volleyball day 1

Volleyball practice is underway as the 2014 season draws near. New head coach Ashleigh Fitzgerald got a chance to work with the girls in the Spring, but is really getting the Cowgirls prepared for Match 1 on August 29th.

"Really looking forward to getting this season started, returning a lot of kids. I only have 3 new ones. It's my first year and my staff's first year but I feel like we have some familiarity with everybody because we got a chance to work with them in the spring, so we're going 2 a days right now, had a good first practice this morning and going again this afternoon." -Fitzgerald

LAKE CHARLES--  There was a lot of freshness and excitement surrounding McNeese volleyball Monday morning during the first practice of the 2014 season including a new head coach in Ashleigh Fitzgerald and a repainted court in Memorial Gym.

“I would like to thank the Petrochem for providing the funds to have the court redone,” said Fitzgerald.  “Without them this would not have happened.  We are proud of the new floor and can't wait for our fans to see it as well.  My staff and I and some of our kids put our heart and soul into laying down the stencils and painting it.  We will put new banners up before our first home match.  It gives Memorial Gym a fresh look and all the kids are really excited about it.

“They were all here in July and we look like we are in pretty good shape.  I have kind of designed what we want to do with what we have and what we have are big, strong kids.  We aren't going to try to make them into something they aren't.”

The practice was filled with positive feedback from both players and coaches throughout the entire three-hour practice.  Most of the practice was focused on the offense which will have 10 letter winners returning including five starters from a team that posted a 17-16 record and tied for sixth place in the league race with a 9-9 record last season.  The Cowgirls will continue to go through two-a days until classes begin Aug. 25.   

“We have some really good stuff here,” said Fitzgerald.  “Our emphasis is putting some heat on the ball and hitting it hard and deep.  We want to have a scoring mentality and I think we are all getting a hold of that and understanding what we need to do to make that happen.”

The Cowgirls have only one senior on the team in Rachel Cagnina.  Cagnina played in 31 matches last season and was fourth on the team with 236 kills, 16 service aces and a .241 hitting percent.

“We had a more positive atmosphere and we were communicating a lot on the court.  It was a lot of fun and we were focused,” said Cagnina.

Also returning are juniors Malina Sanchez, Kimberlyn Patterson, Carly DeMarque, Kelly Graham, Maegan Carlton and Amber Fryer along with sophomores Kara Rockey, Vanessa Bentley, Chrysta Stuart and Rebecca Koreneck.  Stepping onto the court for the first time as a collegiate were freshmen Shelby Poehls, Adison Giambrone and Rae Myers.

The Cowgirls will open the season with four straight tournaments on consecutive weekends with the season opener set for Aug. 29-30 at the Florida Atlantic Invitational.  McNeese will host the Big Daddy's Invitational Sept. 5-6 and the Cowgirl Classic Sept. 12-13.

Admission to all home matches with be free courtesy of the Lake Charles American Press.

by Pam LaFosse