Weekend Preview: Bucs head back to Cullowhee for third consecutive year to open 2018 season

Weekend Preview: Bucs head back to Cullowhee for third consecutive year to open 2018 season

**CATAMOUNT CLASSIC**
Friday, August 24

CSU vs. Middle Tennessee State
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
4 p.m. – Live Stats

Saturday, August 25
CSU at Western Carolina
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
12:30 p.m. – Live Stats – ESPN+

CSU vs. Robert Morris
Ramsey Center – Cullowhee, N.C.
4 p.m. – Live Stats

Weekend Preview
Charleston Southern opens up the 2018 season this weekend in Cullowhee, N.C. as the Buccaneers make the trip to the Ramsey Athletic Center at Western Carolina University for the Catamount Classic. The Bucs will take on Middle Tennessee State in the opening match of the weekend. CSU will take on Western Carolina and Robert Morris on the final day of the tournament.

CSU's match against Western Carolina will be streamed live via ESPN+, while live stats for all three matches will be available on CSUSports.com and CatamountSports.com.

The Buccaneers return to Western Carolina to open the season for the third consecutive year as CSU returns to a familiar facility. The Bucs have gone a combined 0-6 over the last two seasons in the opening weekend tournaments over the last two seasons. CSU opened up the 2016 season against Tennessee Tech, WCU, and UAB. The Bucs went 0-3 last season against WCU, Jacksonville State, and Towson.

CSU is coming off an 8-22 season, which includes a 3-13 mark in Big South Conference play last season. The Bucs were picked eighth in the Big South Conference preseason poll with CSU returning 11 players from last year's squad including rising seniors Madison MartinAddison Kaderli, and Hannah Western. Martin and Kaderli, in particular, have a chance to reach career milestones this season. The duo will be among the CSU players to watch this weekend.

Opponent Preview
Middle Tennessee State

Middle Tennessee State enters the 2018 season ranked 12th in the C-USA Volleyball Preseason Poll. The Blue Raiders bring a wealth of experience back to the roster headlined by junior Dora Peonia. The outside hitter finished the 2017 season with a career-high 44 service aces while leading the team in kills this past season. MTSU went 7-23 last season with a 2-12 record in conference play under Head Coach Chuck Crawford.

Western Carolina
Western Carolina enters the 2018 season ranked eighth in the SoCon Volleyball Preseason Poll. The Catamounts open the season at home for the fourth consecutive season and return a young team under Head Coach Karen Glover. Sophomore middle blocker MaKenzie White is WCU's leading hitter returning on the year after averaging 2.10 kills per set and a .178 hitting percentage last season. White also averaged 0.62 blocks per set at the net.

Robert Morris
Robert Morris was one of four teams to receive first place votes in the Northeast Conference Preseason Poll. The Colonials were selected third overall in the poll after returning to the postseason last year with an 8-6 mark in NEC play. Middle blocker Emma Granger stood out last season as a true freshman and returns after posting 61 service aces and a .336 hitting percentage last season to earn conference Rookie of the Year honors.

Match to Watch
Charleston Southern's first match on Saturday afternoon will be the first opportunity for fans to catch the Buccaneers' live this season. The Bucs take on host Western Carolina at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN+ with the link posted on CSUSports.com. CSU was swept last season by WCU in their lone matchup of the year as the Catamounts took the 25-22, 25-22, 25-12 victory. Addison Kaderli led the Bucs with 10 kills, six digs, and a block assist in the loss.

Player Watch
Madison Martin – Charleston Southern, Senior, Libero
Senior libero Madison Martin returns to the Buccaneers' lineup already possessing one of the most decorated careers in both program and Big South Conference history. The Birmingham, Mich. native already possesses CSU's single-season digs mark set back in the 2016 season with 665 digs. She followed up last year with 528, the third-most by a Buccaneer in program history. Martin enters the season with 1,462 digs sitting third all-time in the Bucs' career record books. She sits just 371 career digs behind CSU all-time leader Carrie O'Connell (1,833 - 1991-94) with the former Buccaneer great also sitting 10th all-time in Big South history in career digs.

Addison Kaderli – Charleston Southern, Senior, Outside Hitter
Senior outside hitter Addison Kaderli is also chasing a mark of her own this season as the Austin, Texas native enters the season with 882 career kills. She needs just 118 kills this year to become just the seventh player in program history to reach 1,000 career kills at CSU and first since Meredith Parrott (1,094, 2012-15) reached the mark. Kaderli has averaged 2.44 kills per set over her three seasons with the Bucs. The rising senior peaked in the 2016 season with 2.68 kills per set and will look to help guide the offense this season after a strong exhibition season that included 12 kills in a win over West Virginia State.

Dora Peonia – Middle Tennessee State, Junior, Outside Hitter
Junior outside hitter Dora Peonia leads the Blue Raiders team heading into the 2018 season with the Castel Bolognese, Italy native pacing the team with 44 service aces and 2.86 kills per set last season. Peonia earned Robert Morris Invitational All-Tournament honors last season and posted career-highs with nine service aces against LA Tech, as well as 14 kills and a .444 hitting percentage against Tennessee State. She added 18 kills against Morehead State. Peonia and senior outside hitter Regan Coughlin (2.57 k/s) are expected to pace the offense this year.

MaKenzie White – Western Carolina, Sophomore, Middle Blocker
Sophomore middle blocker MaKenzie White took over a key role on the Western Carolina volleyball team, appearing in all 30 matches while making 22 starts. She was named to the Southern Conference All-Freshman Team after ranking third on the team in kills (227) and in blocks (67). She had a career-best 19 kills at Samford last season and posted three or more blocks in 11 different matches last season. Also noted among her key statistics included 37 digs last September against Samford.

Emma Granger – Robert Morris, Sophomore, Middle Blocker
Middle blocker Emma Granger stood out at the head of the aforementioned rookie class that shall return as sophomores this fall. She set an RMU single-season record with 61 service aces, tying for third in all of D-I, and a .336 attack average good for second in the conference en route to NEC Rookie of the Year honors, the 2017 team Most Valuable Player award and a conference-best four NEC Rookie of the Week nods.

Up Next
Following the Catamount Classic, Charleston Southern returns home to the Buccaneer Field House for its home opener on Tuesday, August 28, against Savannah State. First serve between the Bucs and the Tigers is set for 6 p.m. on ESPN+

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