By Erin ReillyHoya Staff Writer

The volleyball team may be short a few upperclassmen this year, but they certainly are not short on talent, spirit or expectations.

The young team will continue to rebuild and work their way toward their ultimate goal of making the Big East Tournament. In 1999, the team defeated Notre Dame in the Big East Championship Game to win the tournament. With five freshman and only two seniors, the team will have to work hard to defeat strong non-conference opponents such as Illinois from the Big Ten and highly ranked schools such as Colorado State from the Mountain West and Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Head Coach Li Liu remains optimistic despite the squad’s youth.

“We had a great pre-season, they are very upbeat and have a positive attitude,” Liu said.

Leading this young team are two co-captains. Junior Lauren Warner and senior Meg Mullen have worked “extra hard” and really stepped up, leading by example to get the team motivated Liu said.

Mullen is a 5-foot-10 outside hitter from Westlake Village, Calif. She has posted impressive numbers over her three-year career including 539 digs, 126 kills and 82 aces. Mullen and Warner will both be filling outside hitter positions, one of which was left vacant this year when previous captain Kiran Gill graduated.

Warner is a 5-foot-11 outside hitter from Santa Ana, Calif., and out of Mater Dei High School. As a freshman she was named Big East Rookie of the Week three times and won the Big East Rookie of the Year Award. Liu said it is evident that Warner spent her summer preparing for the season and that she is much improved this year.

As the other senior on the team, Yulia Vtyurina has also assumed her leadership role and a dedicated team member. Liu said Vtyurina had great pre-season practices and has a good work ethic and wants to have a succesful last year.

Junior Anna Kleinsorge has also made strides toward improvement this season. She has been a strong player in her first two years but is doing an excellent job of taking charge in the middle blocker position this year.

Adding to the leadership of the team veterans, five new freshmen bring strength and spirit to the team. Sara Albert, a 6-foot-3 freshmen from Davis Calif., Lara Bursch, (5-foot-11) from Alexandria, Minn. and 6-foot-1 Christine Werner a graduate from La Reina High School, and a resident of Thousand Oaks, Calif are all new middle blockers for the Hoyas. In the outside hitter position, 5-foot-9 freshman Julie Grauert, from Jesuit High School, Lake Oswego, Ore., will be looking for playing time. Margaret Vernon is a 5-foot-10 setter from Denver, Colo., and comes to the Hoyas from Kent Denver School.

In addition to the five freshmen who will be battling for starting spots, Assistant Coach Paul Koncir is also new to Georgetown. He comes to the Hoyas after graduating from George ason University in 1999, where he served as an assistant coach.

While the long-term goal of the team this year is to make the Big East Conference Tournament, Liu states that first their focus will be on the their tough non-conference schedule which begins today with the University of Illinois at the George Mason Invitational.

“Today’s first match is a test to see what we can do,” Liu said. “Everyone wants to get good.”

The first home game for the Hoyas is September 11 against Virginia at 7 p.m. in McDonough Gymnasium.

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