PREVIEW: Southeast Missouri State volleyball coach Folliard hopes strides continue in Year 2

Thursday, August 23, 2012
Southeast Missouri State players celebrate a point against Murray State during their match last season. (Missourian file photo)

It didn't take Julie Folliard long to reverse the fortunes of a struggling Southeast Missouri State volleyball program.

Folliard's first coaching job was a tough one. She took over a team that missed the Ohio Valley Conference tournament the previous two seasons and was coming off a ninth-place finish.

Folliard wasted no time. She led the 2011 Redhawks to a fourth-place OVC finish and their first conference tournament berth since 2008. They went 14-19 overall and 12-9 in league play.

Folliard was able to restore some luster to a once-proud program but knows there is plenty more work to be done.

"It didn't really surprise me that we did as well as we did after I saw them in the spring," said Folliard, associate head coach at SIU Carbondale for five seasons before taking over the Redhawks. "We just have to keep working to get better, take it to the next level.

Southeast Missouri State's Emily Coon hits over Tennessee Tech's Christine Macy during a match last season. (Missourian file photo)

"I'm really optimistic having so many people back and already having a year under our belts in our system. They know what I expect."

The Redhawks, who lost just two seniors from a year ago, open the season Friday at the Iowa Hawkeye Challenge. Southeast is picked to finish third in the 12-team OVC after being predicted to finish ninth in 2011.

"I always knew we had the talent. It was just a matter of putting it together," senior Brittney Kalinoski said. "This year I think we'll even have a lot more fun. Knowing each other, knowing what the coaches expect. Now we get to build on last year."

Southeast's 13-player roster features 11 returners, including five starters from last year.

"I'm so excited for the season," junior Emily Coon said. "We came together as a team last year. We definitely want to keep building. We have a very experienced team. We know each other's tendencies.

"We want to get that title of No. 1 [in the OVC]. We're ready to surprise some people again."

Coon, who is entering her third season as a starter, is coming off an all-OVC campaign that saw her lead the league with 141 blocks while ranking in the conference's top five with a .301 hitting percentage. She was second on the squad with 288 kills.

"Emily is going to have another great year," Folliard said. "She's an offensive dynamo."

The Redhawks return their top six kill leaders in Kalinoski, who led the way with 328, followed by Coon, senior Karlee Lursen (232), junior Colleen Yarber (192), junior Julie Shives (155) and sophomore Kelsey Keeve (110).

Shives, who is entering her third year as Southeast's starting setter, led the Redhawks in assists with 1,189, digs with 391 and service aces with 22. She and Coon were voted to the preseason all-OVC team.

"Julie knows how to get the ball to everybody," Folliard said. "She does it all."

Senior Samantha Lowman was third in digs with 291, followed by junior Berkley Idel with 283.

Junior Andrea Baylin also saw significant action last year, while sophomores Erica Beck and Meredith Stranges saw limited action.

Newcomers are transfer Taylor Masterson, who redshirted as a freshman at Alabama last year, and Halle Brown, the Redhawks' lone true freshman.

"Taylor will add a lot of offense," Folliard said.

Folliard said fans won't be disappointed when they come out to support the Redhawks.

"We'll be fast paced," she said. "We'll be a very exciting team to watch."

OVC divisions

OVC volleyball will compete in divisions starting this year after the addition of Belmont brought the conference to 12 teams.

Southeast is in the West Division along with Austin Peay, Eastern Illinois, Murray State, SIU Edwardsville and Tennessee-Martin.

The East Division will consist of Belmont, Eastern Kentucky, Jacksonville State, Morehead State, Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

The OVC volleyball tournament, which previously included six teams, will expand to eight teams beginning this year. The winner of each division automatically will receive a tournament berth, with the rest of the field and seeding being based on conference winning percentage.

The top seed will host the tournament, as in previous years.

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