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New volleyball era at UL

Joshua Parrott • jparrott@theadvertiser.com • August 29, 2008

The Heather Mazeitis era officially starts today for UL’s volleyball team in Houston at the Rice Tournament.

Mazeitis and her Ragin’ Cajuns will play three matches over the next two days, starting with a 12:30 p.m. matchup against Michigan and 5:30 p.m. meeting against Rice. The Cajuns end the trip at 4 p.m. Saturday against Texas-San Antonio.

Those matches should present a challenge for the Cajuns, who return nine letterwinners and four starters from last year’s team that went 4-29 under Amy Kraljev. Michigan was ranked 19th nationally last year after going 24-11, Rice returns five of six starters from a 13-17 squad and UTSA is coming off a 13-21 season.

Mazeitis was excited when she talked with The Daily Advertiser last month.

"I think in our spring workouts, the players saw what it takes to be successful," said Mazeitis, who previously spent seven years as Louisiana Tech’s head coach. "They had good players last year but were not sustaining consistency. Now they’re learning how to sustain it."

The Cajuns lost seniors Erika Castro (libero) and Tara Cote (defensive specialist) to graduation and freshman Monica Deschaine, who returned to her native Texas to get into UTSA’s physical therapy program.

In addition to adding Castro as a student assistant coach, Mazeitis hired George Hagemaster as an assistant coach. Hagemaster coached at the high school and club level in Illinois after playing on the men’s club team at the University of Kentucky.

With Castro’s departure from the court, sophomore Lindsay Brown is expected to move into the libero position. She led the team in receptions last year, logging a .966 percentage with 54 errors in 481 attempts. She was second on the team with 317 digs.

Tracie Knowlton, a senior middle blocker, recorded a team-high 105 blocks last year. Another senior, Elizabeth Inman, led the team with 343 kills in 2007. She moves to middle blocker after splitting time at that position and outside hitter last season. Sophomore Amie Goodwin will be counted on defensively after leading the team in service aces (53), points (406.0), finishing second in kills (340) and third in digs (242) and receptions (61 errors in 318 attempts).

Junior Kendra Hall led the team last year with 1,094 assists, nearly 10 per game. She’s fourth on the program’s career assists list with 1,913.

One of the newcomers is former Cajun basketball standout Sonora Edwards. The senior became the 13th player in UL women’s basketball history to top 1,000 career points. She last played volleyball at Somerville High in Texas, earning all-state recognition and District 25-2A MVP honors. Somerville also won four district titles and three area championships during her tenure.

Mazeitis and her coaching staff signed three players in the spring – Meghan Harrison from Wisconsin and Amanda Cune and Lesley Mirarchi of Texas – and will welcome four other freshmen as walk-ons.