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2013 Volleyball Season Preview

Jillian Shemanski going for the kill.

Aug 26, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Marshall volleyball, in 2013, is as balanced as a squad comes in Conference USA. The 2012 squad finished 18-13 (8-8 C-USA). The Herd return five starters plus the libero from a year ago.

On offense, Marshall wields one of the most devastating weapons in the conference as outside hitter Laura Der returns for her senior season. In 2012, Der was named All-Conference USA first team and to the All-Midwest Region honorable mention team. During her junior season, she earned 4.39 kills per set enroute to 483 kills. That number ranks sixth all-time for a season at Marshall.

Der was named to the 2013 Preseason All-Conference USA team.

"For us to be successful this year we are going to have to find consistent offense that doesn't include Der," said Head Coach Mitch Jacobs. "We know what she's capable of but we need to become more balanced with our attack."

The Herd also returns one of the best liberos in program history in Dorothy Rahal. In 2012, the senior averaged 4.45 digs per set and received C-USA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

The Herd's defensive anchor has already painted her name throughout the MU record book and will be digging her way to the most digs in school history. She currently ranks second behind Maggie Arias after collecting 525 digs in 2012. Arias tallied 1,758 digs in her four-year career (2004-07 with the Herd). The season mark for digs is 530 digs recorded by Ashley Barnard in 2003.

At middle blocker, the Herd will look to sophomore Jillian Shemanski to set the tone. She was the team's leading blocker in 2012, with 100. She was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team due in part to a 13 block performance against SMU.

She will team up with senior middle blocker Sacha Byous-McConnell who averaged 2.40 kills per set and collected 48 total blocks. Byous-McConnell is currently fourth in all-time hitting percentage for the program.

Sophomore Lauren Legge - 6 feet 3 - also will be at the net for the Herd, after making 59 blocks a season ago. She averaged 1.46 kills per set and was fourth on the team in points. Legge is a versatile player who will play middle blocker and outside hitter in 2013.

Junior setter Sammie Bane will be setting up the Herd. Bane is coming off a 1,243-assist year as a sophomore, and is already in the top five in career assists. She was named Conference USA Setter of the Week once as a freshman and once in 2012.

Marshall also brought in eight newcomers, including seven freshmen who hope to contribute right away.

"We do have more depth this season then anytime I can remember, but that doesn't mean it's our best starting six," said Jacobs. "So everyone, every night needs to be ready to get after it."

The Herd will open the season on the road Aug. 30 in the Jefferson Cup, hosted by Virginia. Marshall will play eight matches on the road before their first home match September 11 against East Tennessee State. MU is set to play eleven home matches in 2013.

MU will face a tough non-conference schedule that includes a visit to No. 7 Michigan. The Herd will host the Thunder Invitational on Sept. 13-14 at the Henderson Center, with visiting Kent State, Southern Illinois and Eastern Kentucky.

Marshall will open Conference USA play September 27 when they travel to face conference-newcomer Florida Atlantic.

The Herd will travel to in-state rival West Virginia Oct. 29. MU won the last match for the "Golden Ball" between the two schools, 3-1 in 2011. The Herd will travel to take on last year's C-USA champions, Tulsa, on Nov. 10 before closing out the season at home against Middle Tennessee State on Nov. 15.

Conference USA has many new faces for the 2013 season. Newcomers in volleyball are Charlotte, FIU, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee State, North Texas and UTSA. The Herd face all these teams except North Texas.

Coach Jacobs is entering his 12th season at the helm of Marshall volleyball. He collected his 200th victory last season (207-144 overall record at Marshall). He guided the program to C-USA regular season championships twice (2005, 2007) and C-USA tournament champions in 2005. He has been awarded C-USA Coach of the Year twice (2005, 2007) during his tenure at Marshall.

Jacobs will be digging for his 400th career victory this season. He is 389-255 in 20 seasons at Florida Tech, Fairfield and Marshall. He is currently the longest-tenured coach in the conference and has collected the most wins for his program.

"If this team can be an unselfish team, then I feel we could have a very special year," said Jacobs. "It is going to take a true team to get us to where we want to go. And that is the NCAA tournament. "

For more information on the Marshall volleyball team and a complete schedule, visit