Preseason camp is underway for the new-look Delaware State University volleyball team.
The 2013 season marks a new beginning for the Hornets. Kisya Killingsworth-Putney, a former standout player at the University of Florida, takes charge of the Hornets this season. Killingsworth-Putney comes to Delaware State after serving as an assistant coach at MEAC rival Bethune-Cookman the past two years. During her playing career at Florida, she helped lead the Gators to three Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament championships, four SEC regular season titles and four NCAA Tournament appearances. Florida advanced to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight in 2008 and Sweet 16 in 2006 and '07. The Gators compiled a 120-14 overall record and 68-4 mark in SEC regular season matches during her career.

“This is an exciting challenge to begin my head coaching career at the Division I level,” Killingsworth-Putney said. “The confidence of the DSU administration and the enthusiastic response I’ve received from the team gives me hope for the future of the Hornet volleyball program.”

Delaware State is hoping Killingsworth-Putney’s playing experience at one of the nation’s top collegiate programs will translate into a resurgence for the Hornets, who failed to qualify for the MEAC Tournament the past two seasons after reaching the tournament title game in 2010.

The 2013 Delaware State roster will feature five returning players from last year’s squad, which posted a 5-21 overall record and a 2-10 mark in the MEAC.

“I’ve told each of the veteran players that the slate is clean as far as I’m concerned,” said Killingsworth-Putney. “Regardless of their roles in the past, everyone will have an equal opportunity to earn playing time this season. There is certainly enough talent and enthusiasm here to be competitive in the MEAC North this year.”

Topping the list of returning letter winners are seniors Jessica Russell-Croucher (OH; Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) and Brooke Redmon (MB; Warrenton, Va.).

Russell-Croucher was tops on the Hornets with 229 kills (2.52 per set) and fifth in the MEAC in service aces (34; 0.42 pg) in 2012. She enters the 2013 season with 695 kills, 551 digs, 87 aces and 79 blocks in her career.

Redmon was tops on the Hornets and second in the MEAC with a .321 hitting percentage (150 kills/321 attacks/47 errors) in 2012. Her career totals include 345 kills, 155 blocks and 45 digs.

Outside hitter Edarkis Branch (jr.; Los Angeles, Cal.) returns for her third season with the Hornets. Branch was second on the Hornets in kills (205) and kills per-game (2.28) last season. She was also third on the team with 205 digs (2.28 pg) last season.

Outside hitters Jasmine Jackson (so.; South Riding, Va.) and Alena Jung (so.; Kusterdingen, Germany) also return after gaining valuable experience as true freshmen in 2012.

Jackson was fourth on the Hornets in kills (147) and 192 digs, while Jung recorded 52 kills and 120 digs last season.

The 2013 Hornets expect to feature seven new players.

Among the newcomers is setter Taylor Marshall of Lancaster, OH. Marshall (5-7) helped lead Fairfield Union High School to a 20-5 overall record and second straight district championship in 2012. She recorded 1,572 assists during her varsity career, highlighted by school records 636 in a season (2011) and 51 in a match (2011). Marshall tallied 33 assists in the Falcons’ 2012 district championship victory.
The Hornets will also welcome outside hitter Jennesa Helu of Danville, Cal. Helu (6-0) was a key member of Monte Viste High School’s 2012 North Coast (Cal.) Section Div. I semifinalist team. The Mustangs posted a 25-11 overall record during her senior season.

Middle blocker Ariana Stevens of Los Angeles, Cal., will also join the Hornets this season. Stevens (5-11) helped lead Da Vinci Science High School to an 18-6 record during her last varsity season. An all-conference selection, she was a member of the school’s league championship squad.
The Hornets will hold a preseason scrimmage on Aug. 28 at 7:00 p.m. in Memorial Hall. The 2013 season opener is Aug 30 at Hofstra. The home opener is Sep. 17 vs. Towson (6:00 p.m.).