2008 South Carolina Volleyball Preview: Middle Blockers
Aug. 27, 2008
Last season, the middle blockers blossomed into vital parts of the squad, as Laughlin and Belita Salters became quite the one-two punch. The duo started all 29 matches and played in every game during 2007. This year, Somera and his staff have made this position even deeper, which could bring more versatility to this group.
Leading the way will still be the senior Salters. One of the top blockers in the league last season, the Scranton, S.C., native is back to try to etch her name into the Carolina record books. She stands just outside the career top-10 list in blocks assists and total blocks, while she currently stands eight in block solos and ninth in hitting percentage. Salters led the way with her .330 hitting percentage and 1.21 blocks per game in 2007. Comparable numbers could push her higher onto both charts and help propel the Gamecocks to new heights.
"She is an amazing athlete," Somera said about Salters, "and was recruited by the track program here. She is quick, springy and a very dominant player at the net for us."
Not to be outdone, Laughlin finished right behind Salters in kills per game with 2.71, while she also stood second in blocks and hitting percentage to Salters' lead. Laughlin, however, had an impact with her serves, ranking sixth in the SEC with her 0.40 aces per game. The Cornell, Ill., product earned a spot on the SEC All-Freshman Team last year, the second Gamecock in history to pick up the honor. With a year of experience behind her, Laughlin looks to continue her growth into one of the top middle blockers in the league.
"Megan Laughlin hit over .280 for us last year," spoke Somera. "She was just a solid player for us as a freshman. We expect her to come in and have similar stats and take on a bigger role in other areas."
But the incumbents cannot rest on their laurels, as Somera has added two high-quality athletes to their ranks. Anderson comes to Carolina by way of Florida Gulf Coast, where she redshirted during her freshman season for the top team in the Atlantic Sun Conference. Now the 6-0 Anderson comes north to compete for a spot in the Gamecocks' rotation. She will also have to fight off freshman Teresa Stenlund, who was named the Orange County (Calif.) Register's Player of the Year during her final year at Beckman High School. Stenlund's 6-2 frame could become a big part of a block for the Gamecocks and possibly push Laughlin and Anderson to the outside.