COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbus State head coach Jill Yocum begins her fourth season with a new era of players-as nine newcomers join two returners for a squad stacked with leadership, talent, and attitude.
Yocum has led her team to two consecutive DIII national appearances, including a 2017 fourth place finish. "The Cougar squad is excited for the 2018 season," Yocum said. "We have eleven talented young ladies with great attitudes and an outstanding work ethic."
Sophomore Georgia Payne is one of two returners this season. Last season, Georgia brought eight years of club experience to Columbus State and was able to settle into a starting position as a freshman. This season, Georgia is moving into her most experienced position as a setter, after playing middle and outside hitter in 2017. According to Coach Yocum, "she is an excellent floor leader for her young teammates, and a fierce competitor. Her experience and knowledge of the game has made moving into a new season much easier. We are counting on Georgia to lead the charge."
The second returner looking to make an impact is defensive specialist Anna Megown. Last season, Anna came to Columbus State with seven years of club experience. Anna suffered a season ending injury early but "is now healthy and ready to help with her versatility and on and off the court leadership. She is a very adaptable player, giving us options on offense and defense," Yocum said.
Nine Central Ohio freshmen will step onto the court to compete in their first intercollegiate match. Six play offensive positions.
Audrey Jenkins (Canal Winchester/Canal Winchester HS) comes to Columbus State with seven years of high level club experience. She will step on the court as a setter in a 6/2 situation, having primarily been in a 5/1 offense, and will have the opportunity to take on the role of a hitter. "Audrey has a true passion for the game, and combined with her athleticism and heart, will be a valuable component to our program," said Yocum.
Edan Jones (Dublin/Dublin Scioto HS) has six years high level club experience, where she has played every position on the floor. According to Coach Yocum, "she is an amazing player, she gets the game because of her experience with multiple positions. She has mature knowledge and great ability and versatility making her an ideal six position player."
Tanya Yeauger (Worthington/Worthington Kilbourne HS) brings seven years of high level club experience to the team. Tanya has experience in every front row position in her volleyball career, making her an asset to the team. "She has developed a very effective and smart attack from every position. One of the most special components of Tanya's game is her passion for blocking," Yocum stated.
Bobby Diamond (Delaware/Olentangy HS) comes to Columbus State from a strong high school program along with eight years of high level club experience. "Bobby is a true impact player, combining power with relentless competitiveness and talent," said Yocum.
Whitney Staggs (Clintonville/Whetstone HS), a high school volleyball and basketball standout, will be a starter for the Cougars. A quick learner, she is becoming a force in multiple positions. "Whitney is athletic, competitive, and has an extremely positive attitude. A combination that is a coach's dream," Yocum concluded.
Tiziana Russell (Galloway/Fort Hayes HS) rounds out the offense for the Cougars. Tiziana comes to Columbus State from the Columbus West High School program, where she had impressive post season honors for her four years on varsity. She also has one year of club experience. She hits a heavy ball and has honed in on her blocking skills. According to Yocum, "we are asking her to take on positions she has never played and she is making amazing progress. Her wonderful attitude and willingness to take on every challenge we give her is refreshing."
Let's talk defense. We have a trio of incoming defensive players.
Megan Mechlin (Grove City/Grove City HS) arrived at Columbus State from a solid high school program and six years of high level club experience. Megan is taking on the role of libero, perfecting her defense day-by-day. "Megan is a perfectionist. Every drill, every game situation is always all out for her."
Samantha Dunn (Powell/Olentangy Liberty HS) brings eight years club experience, including three at the national level. The defensive specialist has had extensive experience at all three back row positions and "loves the game and her role on the team," Yocum said.
A libero on her high school team, Danielle Miller (Westerville/Westerville South HS) imparts the beach element to the Columbus State Cougars. Danielle recently competed at the USAV Junior Beach Volleyball National Championship where she and her partner placed 5th overall. According to Yocum, "Danielle is quick, self-motivated and possesses qualities that are certainly an asset to indoor volleyball.
Expressing her enthusiasm for the team Yocum concluded, "One of the most impressive attributes of this year's team, is that there are an all for one and one for all team. Even though each one has special talents and have been leaders on their past teams, they work hard, and always support and celebrate each other- they seem to realize it takes all of us to build this team".
The volleyball team opens its season at home on Fri, Aug. 24 against Clark State at 6:00 p.m. in the Delaware Hall Athletic Center.