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Aug. 9, 2010

by Koby Padgett
Assistant Media Relations Director

Coach Somera

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina volleyball team started its preseason work on Monday, getting two practices, weights and conditioning and a end-of-day extended stretching session in during their first full day back on campus. A lot of the work came in acclimating eight freshmen into the speed and energy of practices at the collegiate level.

The morning session went “Okay,” said Gamecock head coach Ben Somera. “We went about 60 percent this morning. We weren’t in rhythm in our three-touch drills, but that will come.”

In the evening, the team went through more drills, working on passing and serving among others, and had a well-contested final six-on-six drill.

“We had a good day,” Somera remarked after the final session of the day. “The freshmen are picking things up quickly, and the upperclassmen are doing a really good job of holding everybody to the right environment in our gym.”

Beyond the original freshman class of four announced in January that included Cara Howley, Kellie Schmidt, Frankie Vain and Paige Wheeler, four others joined the eight returnees in practice. Those include Lindsey Craft, Megan Kent, Kathryn Pearce and Casie Slaughter.

A three-year letterwinner at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Raleigh, N.C., Slaughter helped her team to a 57-1 record during her three years. She sat out her senior season to focus on academics, but as a junior she was an honorable mention all-conference selection. Playing with the NC Elite 18-1 club for coaches Gary DeJames and Jamie Hall, Slaughter won three regional titles while claiming runner-up honors twice. During the 2009-10 club season, she averaged 2.4 digs per set. She serves as one of the team co-captains and helped the team to a USA Volleyball Junior National Championship tournament berth.

Pearce hails from Charleston, S.C., where she played for the South Carolina Independent Schools Association champion Ashley Hall Panthers last year. A three-year letterwinner in volleyball, she was named MVP of the squad and made three all-tournament teams during her career. As a senior, Pearce compiled 503 digs and 67 aces. She also earned two letters in soccer during her time at Ashley Hall. Pearce played for the Carolina Islanders club and coach Bubbe Khoury.

An Ijamsville, Md., native, Kent earned three letters from Claudia Lapcevich at Urbana High School. As a senior, Kent was an honorable mention all-area by the Washington Post while claiming the Monocacy Valley Athletic League Player of the Year award from the Frederick Post. She also was twice named to the all-MVAL first team in 2007 and 2009. She played club with the Metro American 18T group led by Silvia Johnson.

Craft comes to Columbia from Alpharetta, Ga., where she played volleyball at Chattahoochee High School. A three-year letterwinner for coaches Jenni Coniker and Julie Rushing, Craft made the AAAAA All-Georgia first team and was voted as the area’s player of the year by the coaches. A three-year captain, she also made the all-area 6 AAAAA squad all three seasons. Twice during her career, she led the squad to the state final four. As a senior, she averaged 3.9 kills per game and 4.5 digs per set. The 5-6 standout played with the TCA Atlanta 18-1 club squad. She also was a part of the mixed doubles Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association champions.

The squad has two practices set for Tuesday before just one morning practice on Wednesday, which will be followed by strength and conditioning work.