Lindsay Piccollini is beginning her second season at the helm of the Ohio University Eastern volleyball program.
And she's doing so with "an entirely new team."
The Lady Panthers, who opened on Saturday, have eight players on the roster for the 2012 season, which includes a seven-game regular season prior to opening Ohio Regional Campus Conference Tournament action at Ohio State Newark.
PICTURED IS the 2012 Ohio University Eastern Volleyball Team. Front row, from left, are Melissa Stimpert, Kayley Stephens, Rachel Stuart and Alex Kuhn. Back row, from left, are Kate Fickell, Caralee Wukelich, Lindsey Schafer and Devan Carpenter.
"Our pre-season tournament went great," Piccollini said. "We had the chance to gel together, as a team, and we improved every game. Our program is continuing to grow, and I am very excited about this year's team. These girls are here not only to get a great education, but also to win volleyball games."
The Lady Panthers expected to be strong in the middle as former Monroe Central standouts Kayley Stephens and Kate Fickell will anchor that area. Stephens is an attacking player at the net, while Fickell is one of the team's top blockers.
Another former Lady Seminole on the squad is Alex Kuhn. Also a member of the Lady Panthers' hoop squad, Kuhn is one of the team's top passers. Shenandoah product Caralee Wukelich is another solid passer and she's also a solid outside hitter.
"I have total faith that Alex and Caralee will be able to get the ball to where it needs to go," Piccollini said.
Because of the setters Piccollini has brought to the Lady Panthers, she feels confident they'll be able to play two different styles of offense.
Monroe Central's Melissa Stimpert and Union Local's Lindsey Schafer are in charge of those duties.
"They give us options that are endless," Piccollini said. "They allow our hitters to keep the defense on edge the entire game."
Versatile players Rachel Stuart, who graduated from Buckeye Local, and St. John Central product Devan Carpenter will provide depth.
"Every team needs players who can play multiple positions and we feel Rachel and Devan provide that for us," Piccollini said.
"These girls have a lot of heart, passion and I really expect to see some big things from them this year. A lot of teams will continue to overlook us, which we will use to our advantage. We're taking the role of underdog and running with it."
The complete OUE schedule looks like this:
Sept. 13 - at Wheeling Jesuit, 7 p.m.; Sept. 15 - at Akron Wayne, 10 a.m.; Sept. 22 - OSU Mansfield, Noon; Sept. 25 - Wheeling Jesuit, 7 p.m.; Sept. 29 - at OU Lancaster, Noon; Oct. 6 - OSU Newark, Noon; Oct. 13-14 - ORCC Tournament at OSU Newark.