UNCP volleyball shows
flashes of greatness
By Ryan Kelly
UNCP volleyball has been a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster fall sports semester. Thus far in the season, the Lady Braves have given fans (and Head Coach Jeff Billington) much to cheer for.
Through the midway point the team has already exceeded their win total from last year with nine. Heading into the final quarter of the season, the chances of finishing with a winning record are promising.
Leading the way for UNCP has been newcomer Heather Fierce. Playing the setter position, Fierce has been the catalyst for the team's offensive success. Her 10.53 assists per game is best in the Peach Belt Conference.
Also key to the Lady Braves' success has been the emergence of sophomore Jessica Hartley. Hartley ranks in the top 10 in both kills (2.94 K/Gm) and hitting percentage (.270) in Peach Belt Conference play.
Defensively, sophomore Andrea Laza is second in the conference with 5.36 digs per game.
Laza recently was named PBC specialist of the week for Oct. 15 helping the Lady Braves finish 2-1 against Limestone, Armstrong Atlantic State and Augusta State.
Men’s cross country
Over the years the Black and Gold cross country team has been mediocre in the Peach Belt Conference at best. The Braves reached their highest point two seasons ago when they finished second in the conference championship. In 2007, UNCP has shown the makings of finishing in the upper echelon of the conference after a fourth place result last year.
A trio of upperclassmen have paced the Braves this season.
Giovanni Bilotta, the 2005 PBC freshman runner of the year, has led the way with three top three finishes. He is their best individual runner and a probable all-conference selection.
Junior Jessie McEntire has been running consistently all year and even took a first place finish in the first run of the year at the USC Gamecock Invitational, where the Braves finished first as well.
Rounding out the trio is senior Justin Gordon. Gordon was an all-conference runner a year ago and has given the Braves better depth than they've had in years past.