TAMPA, Fla. - The University of Tampa volleyball team will open its 2018 season this weekend competing in the Raven First Serve Invitational hosted by Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, N.H., The Spartans start the invitational on Friday, facing the University of New Haven at 2:00 p.m., followed by an evening match against Franklin Pierce at 6:00 p.m.
On Saturday, UT will start the day at 10:00 a.m. playing against LIU Post and will end the tournament at 2:00 p.m. with a match against Grand Valley State.
Tournament Website: 2018 Raven First Serve Invitational
UT concluded last season with an overall record of 18-14, 13-7 in the Sunshine State Conference. The program participated in its 22nd consecutive NCAA tournament last year, falling in four sets to West Florida in the South Regional. Head coach Chris Catanach will begin his 35th season at the helm of the UT volleyball team, sitting 1,040-196 over the course of his storied career.
Heading into the 2018 season, Catanach is optimistic that the team will improve upon last year's performance, and is excited to be returning all of the team's starting lineup.
Returning for the Spartans this year are both of the 2017 SSC all-conference selections, Taylor Fosler and Sorrel Houghton. Last season Fosler earned All-Conference Second team, while Houghton snagged a spot on the All-SSC Newcomer team. After being named to the All-SSC Newcomer team in 2016, Fosler had another stellar performance for the Spartans last season. The Ocala, Fla. native totaled 253 kills at a .385 attack percentage, in addition to leading the squad in blocks with 84 on the season. Houghton, in her collegiate debut, registered 329 kills, 74 digs, and 29 blocks. She posted 15 or more kills in ten matches last season and had an average hitting percentage of .221.
Two other key returners this season include junior duo, Sammy Mueller, and Nicole Dominguez. Mueller was Tampa's primary setter last year ending the season with a whopping 957 assists, and 210 digs. The Gainesville, Fla. native recorded nine double-doubles, three of which were against ranked opponents. Dominguez, the Apopka, Fla. native was Tampa's leading point scorer in 2017. She ended the season with 349 kills, 324 digs, 34 blocks, and 24 service aces. She stated 11 double-doubles last season, four against ranked opponents.
Finally, the Spartans welcome back sophomore Katie McKiel, who received a medical redshirt last season. Similar to Fosler, McKiel was a member of the All-SSC Newcomer team in 2016. As a freshman, McKiel was second on the team in kills with 272, only behind the offensive efforts of 2016 SSC player of the year Allee Stelogeannis. After a lengthy rehab and full season of beach under her belt, McKiel is excited to be back on the indoor court and serve as a key contributor.
This season four freshmen and one sophomore will wear the Tampa name for the first time.
Check out the entire 2018 Women's Volleyball Team here.
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