BRENHAM, Texas -- Blinn College will enter the 2013 season ranked 13th in the nation after the NJCAA released its preseason volleyball poll this morning.
The Buccaneers, entering their second season under head coach Erin Mellinger, were one of six Texas schools ranked in the top 20. Western Nebraska is ranked No. 1, while Iowa Western enters the season ranked second and defending national champion Southern Idaho is No. 3.
Blinn is coming off a 25-7 finish in 2012 in which the team reached the Region XIV Conference Tournament quarterfinals. Five players from that team were named all-conference, including 2013 returners Bruna Evangelista and Crystal Young.
“It’s all about getting all 17 of our girls on the same page and making sure that everything we do is team-oriented,” Mellinger said. “We’ll have all the physical attributes we need to be successful this year.”
Evangelista, a 6-1 middle blocker from Brazil, is coming off a season in which she earned National Junior College Athletic Association and American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America honors. As a freshman, she led the Buccaneers with 222 kills and 80 blocks on the season, good for 2.96 kills and 1.07 blocks per set. She hit .353 on the season.
“Her goal right now is to be a two-time All-American and I would be really surprised if that doesn’t happen,” Mellinger said. “Bruna was good last year, but the last few times we’ve been in the gym, she’s shown that she’s better than she was last year.”
Young, a 5-11 setter from Clearbrook High School, is coming off a freshman season in which she dished out a team-high 711 assists (8.17 per set). She added 61 kills on the year (0.7 per set) and 37 blocks.
Sophomore Dylan Dean, a 5-10 right-side hitter from Mountain Home, Idaho, totaled 83 kills (1.24 per set), 53 digs and 19 blocks as a freshman. Evely Macedo, a 5-11 outside hitter from Fortaleza, Brazil, tore her ACL and MCL ligaments late last season and has worked hard during the offseason to return to full health.
“People are drawn to her and she is a good decision-maker,” Mellinger said. “She will lead us emotionally and academically.”
In addition to their four returning sophomores, the Buccaneers picked up a couple of transfers during the Spring. Kariana Castanon-Hill, a 6-2 middle blocker / outside hitter from Oakland, Calif., comes to Blinn from Paris Junior College. Katey Kyle, a 6-1 right-side hitter from Pearland Dawson High School, transferred to Blinn from the University of Houston in January.
Blinn was unranked in the 2012 preseason poll but climbed to No. 9 in the nation. The Buccaneers won NJCAA national volleyball titles in 2008 and 2011, and have won at least 25 matches in each of the last 11 years.
The Buccaneers play their Blue & White scrimmage at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 20 in the Blinn P.E. Building. They open this season at the Dana Hatch Invitational in Tyler on Aug. 23, where they play Panola College at noon and eighth-ranked Missouri State University – West Plains at 4 p.m.
For more information on Blinn volleyball, visit www.buccaneersports.com.