Volleyball Golden Eagles Set to Host Southern Miss Invitational to Kick-off Season

Aug. 26, 2015

HATTIESBURG, Miss. -- The Southern Miss volleyball team is set to host its annual Southern Miss Invitational Aug. 28-29 in Reed Green Coliseum in kicking off the 2015 season.

This weekend will be Take-a-Kid-to-the-Match for Free Weekend as all children ages 12 and under will receive free admission with the purchase of an adult ticket. Ticket prices are $5 for adults and $3 for youths.

The tournament field includes Mercer, Nicholls and Southern. First serve is set for 5 p.m. with Nicholls taking on Southern with the night cap featuring Southern Miss against Mercer at 7:30. Action resumes on Saturday at 10 a.m. with Mercer matching up against Nicholls followed by the Golden Eagles against Southern at 12:30. Mercer and Southern Miss will meet at 3:30 p.m. and the tournament concludes with Southern Miss and Nicholls at 6 p.m.

Head Coach Amanda Berkley begins her third season as head coach and returns 11 letterwinners including four starters from last year's team that finished 20-14. Leading the way offensively is junior Stephany Purdue who led the team in kills with 407. Seniors Quinci Hayward, Lydia Bonner and Elise Ames all recorded over 200 kills each. At least 77 percent of the offensive attack return while 65 percent of digs and 45 percent of the blocking.

Reigning Conference USA Libero the Year Mary Pursell returns to anchor the backrow defense. She led the team in digs while ranking third in the league last season.

Junior Makereta Rademakers returns as the most experienced setter to guide the offense this season. Also returning is senior defensive specialist Shelby Russell, Rachel Johnson, Chanel Joyce, Natalie Druhan and Kelsey Chambers. Berkley also welcomes five newcomers Dani Ajayi, Sarah Bell, Alexis Coombs, Kylie Grandy and Katherine Still.

Scouting the Field:
Nicholls is coming off a 10-20 season and returns 10 letterwinners including five starters. Head Coach Tommy Harold is in his fourth season. Nicholls returns its top kill in Kaci Eaton with a 4.19 per set average. Also returning are setters Ainsley Marroccoli and Alyse Barclay to run the offense.

Southern is coming off a 12-15 record as Head Coach Venessa Jacobs enters her third season. The Jaguars return nine letterwinners. Leila Lealaimatafao is the top returning kill leader with 208 kills while SWAC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Diamond Williams is tops in digs with 474.

Mercer finished the 2014 season with an 11-20 record. Head Coach Damian Elder enters his fourth season at the helm and returns 13 letterwinners including five starters. Monica Johnson is the top kill leader with a 2.18 per set average while Hannah Noon returns to guide the offense after averaging 6.45 assists per set last season.

Series Notes for the Field:
This is just the second meeting between Southern Miss and Mercer ... The last time the two teams played was Sept. 20, 1989 ... Southern Miss leads the series 1-0 ... This is the 15th meeting between Southern Miss and Southern ... The series is tied at 7-7 dating back to 1979 ... This is the 50th meeting between USM and Nicholls ... Southern Miss leads the series 35-14, dating back to 1980.

Next Up
Following the Southern Miss Invitational, Southern Miss host Southeastern Louisiana in a 6 p.m., match on Sept. 1.

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