December 20, 2012

2012 Volleyball Season Recap

Written by Sean Dahlin 

BUENA VISTA, Va—The 2012 season for the Southern Virginia University women's volleyball team had its high and low points; however, the Knights finished winning five of their final seven contests to accumulate an overall record of 8-14. 

"I'm grateful to have coached such a wonderful group this past year," said tenth-year Head Coach Michael Harmon. "This team showed a lot of resiliency coming together to finish the season strong after a tough start." 

Harmon returned as the program's fourth head coach in four years in 2012 after a five-year hiatus from women's volleyball. He relied heavily upon the leadership of his team captains—juniors Shyanne Ison (Mt. Pleasant, Utah), Tori Tuttle (Anahola, Haw.) and Callie Woolston (Bountiful, Utah). 

As the Knights' lone senior, Kelsey Beck (Idaho Falls, Idaho) also served as a women's volleyball representative for the Southern Virginia University Student Athletic Advisory Council.

"Tori [Tuttle] and Kelsey [Beck] were our most consistent threats offensively and defensively throughout the year, and they brought a wealth of experience to our team," said Harmon. 

Harmon looked for his middle blockers—Tuttle and Beck—to provide the necessary firepower on-the-court. 

Tuttle headlined the Southern Virginia honors being named for the second time to the USCAA All-American Second Team—she was a USCAA All-American selection in 2011 as well—after leading the Knights in blocks (77), kills (161) and kills-per-game (2.44) in 22 matches this season. 

Tuttle was joined on the All-American team by four-year scholar-athlete Beck, who earned Honorable Mentions honors after tying Tuttle for a season-high 161 kills and ranking second on the team with 57 blocks. 

In addition to Tuttle and Beck, outside hitter Ison and right side Conger complemented the front line with 130 and 94 kills respectively. Ison also recorded the third-most digs (149) and Conger finished third on the team spiking 27 service aces. 

Junior-transfer and defensive specialist Jordan Geist (Jerome, Idaho) performed her duties registering a season-high 188 digs for the Knights while Woolston added 89 digs. 

Incoming freshmen Chelsea Lyons (McCallen, Texas)—USCAA Setter of the Week on Oct. 23, 2012—and Katelynn Tlustek (Bedford, Ind.) provided a needed spark for Southern Virginia. 

Lyons proved to be a utility performer leading the Knights in service aces (41), ranking second in assists (96) and fourth in kills (92) and digs (142). Tlustek finished with a team-high 574 assists while ranking second in service aces (34) and digs (167). 

Freshman Shannon Romito (Walker, La.) found herself in the mix at the net finishing with 34 total blocks. 

"Although players on our team won individual accolades, the foundation of our program is based around discipline not only on-the-court but most especially in the classroom," said Harmon. "I'm very impressed with our scholar-athletes that are able to maintain a high academic standard while juggling all other aspects of their lives." 

Juniors Geist and Ison—also a 2011 All-Academic honoree—along with sophomore Morgan Neese (Sanford, Colo.) earned 2012 USCAA All-Academic honors with a 3.5-plus GPA. 

"We went through some adversity during the first portion of the season but we hit our peak at the end of the year, which was fun to watch," said Harmon. 

After beginning 2-11, Southern Virginia won six of its last nine contests, including sweeping its final three match-ups—defeating Eastern Mennonite (3-1) on Oct. 24 and USCAA-foes West Virginia Tech (3-0) and Virginia-Lynchburg (3-0) on Oct. 27 in the Dig Pink Tri-Match in front of a ruckus home crowd at Knight Arena. 

"Women's volleyball has had several successful seasons in its history," said Harmon. "I feel blessed to have taken part in it and I know the program will continue in the right direction for years to come." 

Harmon is stepping down as women's volleyball head coach, but will continue to serve as women's basketball head coach and physical education instructor at Southern Virginia.

During 2012, his tenth season as head women's volleyball coach, Harmon recorded his 200th win and finished with a 205-126 (.619) record, making him the winningest coach in Southern Virginia history. Women's volleyball is also Southern Virginia's athletic program with the most wins (320) and highest winning percentage (.625) overall.

Paige Palmer was named the new women's volleyball head coach on Dec. 14, 2012. Palmer, who has won two state volleyball titles (2007, 2010) as assistant coach at Lone Peak High School in Utah, replaces Harmon at the post of women's volleyball head coach for the Knights.

After receiving provisional NCAA Division III membership this past summer, Southern Virginia accepted an invitation to join the Capital Athletic Conference—one of the top DIII conferences on the east coast—effective July 1, 2013. The Knights will play a full CAC schedule this upcoming fall of 2013.