Volleyball Preps For Inaugural BIG EAST Campaign

Redshirt senior Alex Smith leads a talented group of Musketeers into the 2013 season.

Redshirt senior Alex Smith leads a talented group of Musketeers into the 2013 season.

Aug 13, 2013

CINCINNATI - The Xavier volleyball team began practice on Saturday for the 2013 season, the program's first in the BIG EAST. Head coach Mike Johnson brings back four starters from 2012 and adds a recruiting class that garnered national recognition.

XU joins Butler, Creighton, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Seton Hall, St. John's and Villanova for a nine-team volleyball conference. The Musketeers are poised for a successful season in the conference after earning three-straight second-place finishes in the Atlantic 10 regular season and three-consecutive runner-up results in the A-10 Tournament.

A-10 All-Conference First Team member Alex Smith (r-Sr., MB) and second team members Aubree Smith (Jr., S) and Sarah Brown (Sr., OH) are joined by Alex Blair (r-Jr., MB) as the Musketeers' four returning starters. Kelsey Dunaway, who played significant time a season ago as an outside hitter, also returns for her senior year as a Musketeer.



Xavier will get a boost from 10-match starter Makayla Agin (So., OH) and redshirt sophomore Lauren Metzger (DS/L). Sofia Peterson (OH/MB), who missed last season due to injury, will also make an impact as a redshirt freshman.

The Musketeers add a recruiting class that was named High Honorable Mention by PrepVolleyball.com. Abbey Bessler, a 6-2 outside hitter from nearby Hebron, Ky. (St. Henry HS), leads the outstanding recruiting class this season. Bessler is joined by Mackenzi Humm (5-10, S), Alexis Newsome (6-1, MB), Emily McIlquham (5-6, DS/L) and Cincinnati native (Sycamore HS) Sariah Suryadevara (5-6, DS/L).

Xavier opens the season as host of the Xavier Invitational. 2012 Final 4 participant Michigan will be XU's first opponent of the tournament, which also features Clemson and Northern Kentucky.

The Duquesne/Robert Morris Invitational, Sports Imports DC Koehl Classic hosted by Ohio State and the UC Irvine Invitational will take Xavier to the end of September.

Competition in the BIG EAST begins on Sept. 27 when the Musketeers travel to Indianapolis for a match against Butler. XU opens its home-conference slate with a meeting against Seton Hall on Friday, Oct. 4.

The Musketeers home schedule also features matches with Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 10 and a pair of matches against 2012 NCAA participants Creighton (Oct. 5) and Marquette (Nov. 2).

The season concludes with the BIG EAST Championship, which will be hosted by Creighton in Omaha, Neb., Nov. 29-30.