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Courtesy: CofCSports.com

Cougars Set To Host Hampton Inn CofC Invitational

Courtesy: CofCSports.com
          Release: 08/25/2016
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Hampton Inn Charleston/West Ashley CofC Invitational

Friday, Aug. 26 – CofC vs. UT Martin at 1:00 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 26 –Binghamton vs. UT Martin at 4:30 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 26 – CofC vs. South Carolina at 7:00 p.m. (Live Video)

Saturday, Aug. 27 – UT Martin vs. South Carolina at 10:00 a.m.

Saturday, Aug. 27 – Binghamton vs. South Carolina at 2:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 27 – CofC vs. Binghamton at 7:00 p.m. (Live Video)

CHARLESTON, S.C. – Since the first week of August when the College of Charleston volleyball team returned to campus for preseason camp, the Cougars have been going 100 percent in practice in preparation for the 2016 season.

“Even with the number of practices that we’ve had in the preseason, they’ve done an outstanding job of getting to the point where things are starting to run seamlessly, offensively and defensively,” CofC Head Coach Jason Kepner said.

All of their hard work comes to a culmination as they prepare to host South Carolina, UT Martin and Binghamton in the Hampton Inn Charleston/West Ashley CofC Invitational on Aug. 27-28 at TD Arena.

The Cougars, who have won 14 conference regular-season or tournament titles in the last 16 seasons, have the same team mindset in 2016.

“The team goals have always been the same,” Kepner said. “We are always looking to win the regular season, win the conference tournament and get to the NCAA Tournament and go as far as we can. Those goals have never changed in the years that I’ve been there. How we get there and how the team tries to achieve those goals change from year-to-year. It comes down to competing as hard as they can on a daily basis to get us ready and in positions to be successful.”

Kepner’s roster includes six returners and nine newcomers comprised of freshmen and transfers from VCU, Tulane, Carson Newman and Foothill College, who will provide veteran leadership to the squad.

Of the returners, the Cougars have a good group of middle blockers in senior Maddie Hills (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), junior Krissy Mummey (Hudson, Ohio) and sophomore Kennedy Madison (Evansville, Ind.). Mummey and Madison were both named preseason CAA Honorable Mention selections.

CofC also returns sophomore starting setter Allison Beckman (Apex, S.C.), sophomore outside hitter Devon Rachel (Louisville, Ky.) and sophomore libero McKala Rhodes (Charleston, S.C.) – all of which Kepner notes have done a great job of improving their ball control in the offseason and preseason.

“Those six have done a good job of getting back here in a better position than they were last year,” he said. “They are better today than when they left in December. The newcomers have all done really well and we are having a hard time filling out our additional spots, because a lot of them bring something different to our team. Our main goal in the preseason was trying to get everyone acclimated to some of the stuff we do here and getting people to communicate with each other better.”

Last season, the Cougars went 20-13 overall with a 10-5 mark on their home court. They also reached the CAA Championship title game for the third-straight season becoming the first No. 5 seed to ever reach the final game of the tournament. Madison finished second on the team in kills (340), while Rhodes was second in digs (347) and Beckman tops in assists (1,124). Madison and Beckman were both tabbed to the 2015 All-CAA Third Team and CAA All-Rookie Team.

“We lost a lot offense last year (with the graduation of Melissa Morello and Kayla Tronick), so we’ve been working with our setters connecting with our hitters,” Kepner said. “One of the big components of doing that is passing. We spent a lot of time working on passing and ball control. Trying to be in system, so that we can get a good number of swings and a lot of good swings. We also want to keep rallies going as long as we can and not let anything easy score against us. Defensively, we want to continue to get good touches which will give us opportunities to score points.”

The Cougars will open the CofC Invitational with UT Martin on Friday, Aug. 26 at 1 p.m. (ET) at TD Arena. They will later face South Carolina in the nightcap at 7 p.m. (ET). Live scoring for all matches will be available at: www.CofCStats.com and live video will be available for the South Carolina match on Friday and Binghamton match on Saturday online via the Charleston Sports Network.

Admission is free to all home CofC Volleyball matches.

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