Scannell's going-away goal-trip to NCAAs

Friday, August 29, 2003

Emily Scannell got a sweet taste of an Ohio Valley Conference championship and NCAA Tournament appearance as a freshman three years ago.

Scannell would like nothing better than to bookend her Southeast Missouri State University volleyball career with similar experiences this season.

Scannell, the Otahkians' senior setter entering her fourth year as a starter, says she believes there's a strong chance that will happen. She and her teammates open the season today with two matches in the Maine Tournament.

"My freshman year was so great, winning the OVC and going to the NCAA Tournament," Scannell said. "I think we can have that kind of team this year. It would be a perfect bookend for me."

Southeast, which won eight of 10 OVC titles and made four NCAA Tournament appearances between 1991 and 2000, has not been on top of the league the past two seasons.

But last year the Otahkians came close by tying for second at 13-3, going 20-12 overall and losing in the OVC Tournament finals. If Southeast is to take the final step this season, coach Cindy Gannon knows Scannell will be a big key.

"Having a stable setter back in Emily is big. I consider that position to be the quarterback of our team," said Gannon, who has a record of 344-175 entering her 15th season with the Otahkians. "She's had a tremendous career for us, and we look for more big things this year."

Scannell, a native of Belleville, Ill., was first-team all-OVC last year, second team in 2001 and the league's freshman of the year in 2000. She has 4,121 career assists to rank third all-time at Southeast, and she is on pace to break the school record.

Although the Otahkians graduated four key seniors, Gannon says they have talent to make a strong run at the conference title.

"I'm excited about this group," Gannon said. "We want to bring an OVC championship back. I think this group is the one to bring it back."

Returning players with starting experience are senior outside hitter Sarah Frost, a member of the preseason all-OVC second team; sophomore outside hitter Jill Miller, who made last year's OVC all-freshmen squad; and senior Suzanne Gundlach, who played the defensive libero position last year but has been moved to outside hitter.

Several newcomers are expected to contribute, including junior middle blocker Ashley Smith, sophomore hitter Andrea Koeper and five freshmen: setter Jamie Baumstark; outside hitter Jessica Koeper; and middle blockers Melissa Friederick, Jessica Wilfong and Danielle Pegram.

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