4th ranked volleyball to open season against No. 1 program

08.07.2013 | By Amanda L. Booren



4th ranked volleyball to open 2013 against No. 1 program

Media Contact: Amanda L. Booren
By: John Bechtle, for sanjacsports.com -- August 21, 2013



PASADENA, Texas -- Ranked fourth nationally to open the 2013 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I women’s volleyball season, San Jacinto College is set to take its swings against some of the country’s top programs right out of the gate.

San Jacinto College, which defeated Iowa Western in the third-place match at nationals a season ago, has reloaded its roster after finishing at 36-3 in 2012. That team also held the nation’s No. 1 ranking for a good portion of the year.

It might be a new season, but veteran head coach Sharon Nelson, entering her 12th season with 332 career wins to this point, expects the same outcome in terms of results. To open 2013, Nelson’s team is once again part of the elite field at the Aug. 23-24 Iowa Western Reiver Classic in Council Bluffs, Iowa. San Jac will take on preseason No. 1 ranked Western Nebraska (40-3, finished second nationally in 2012) to open the tournament and will also face No. 6 Salt Lake and No. 16 Western Wyoming along the way.

In all, the Iowa Western event features four of the nation’s preseason top six rated programs. And while San Jacinto College's roster features eight freshmen, Nelson likes tough competition early.

“We open against the No. 1 team in the nation, so we’re going to find out where we are really fast,” Nelson said. “I think it’s good to see what we’re made of and to then challenge ourselves to improve throughout the course of the season. We’re reloading as opposed to rebuilding. We’re young, but we are also focused on upholding the tradition of this program. I think every program should have their eye on the national title. You need to have that conversation. We do here.”

In looking at her team in the preseason, Nelson is counting on sophomore middle blocker Haley Dibbern (Bay City/Bay City HS) in tandem with setter Keili Harrison (Columbus, Texas / Columbus HS).

The team also returns three sophomore defensive specialists in Chandler Bacon (Houston / Morton Ranch HS), Alex Hackett (Little Cypress-Mauriceville/Little Cypress-Mauriceville HS) and Jacie Pullig (Deer Park / Deer Park HS).

Nelson is also eager to see how a group that includes eight freshmen and two sophomore transfers fits in the mix, and how quickly those players can make an impact.

“We look to find players who fit our program first, and then we teach the tradition and the San Jac way,” Nelson said.

“At the JUCO level, you’re always reloading your roster. Over the past several seasons, every one of our sophomore players has been given the chance to continue their playing careers elsewhere collegiately. We’ve had a good run (8 consecutive top-11 national finishes), and we want to keep it going.”

It all starts at Iowa Western against some of the nation’s best. By season’s end, Nelson expects to be back at the NJCAA championships with a chance to win it all at the Casper Events Center in Casper, Wyoming this November.

“That’s why we play the schedule we do,” Nelson said. “The goal is to get to nationals and win it all, so it’s good to see some of the great competition early on.”



About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.

For more information about San Jacinto College, please call 281-998-6150 or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.