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@PointParkVB Weekly Notes -- Pioneers open season at Grace (Ind.) Classic

Aug. 21, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. ET

08_11_15_PPU_VOLLEY_BALL-79-2 -- for web

DOWNLOAD: 2015 QUICK FACTS, ROSTER, SCHEDULE

AT A GLANCE
PITTSBURGH -- The Point Park University volleyball team opens the season Aug. 21-22 at the Grace (Ind.) College Classic in Winona Lake, Ind. This installment of the @PointParkVB Weekly Notes gets you up to date on everything you need to know for this weekend and as the season gets started.

GRACE COLLEGE CLASSIC AUG. 21-22
Point Park volleyball will play four matches at the Grace (Ind.) College Classic Aug. 21-22. The Pioneers open up Friday night at 5:30 p.m. versus Trinity Christian (Ill.) and then play St. Ambrose (Neb.) at 8 p.m. Point Park squares off with KIAC foe IU Kokomo in a non-conference match on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in a matchup of two of the top teams in the league. The weekend wraps up with a match versus host Grace (Ind.) on Saturday at 4 p.m.

LIVE VIDEO @ GRACE
Live streaming video will be available for three of the Pioneers matches this weekend courtesy of host Grace College. Visit Grace’s Tournament Central page for links to video coverage for matches that are played on Court 1. Video streaming will be available for these Point Park matches:

Friday              vs.         Trinity Christian (Ill.)      5:30 p.m.          Watch Live

Saturday          vs.         IU Kokomo                    1:30 p.m.          Watch Live

Saturday          at           Grace (Ind.)                  4:00 p.m.          Watch Live

PRESEASON POLLS
Point Park has been picked as the conference favorite in the KIAC Preseason Coaches’ Poll (Aug. 14) with 127 points and 7 of 11 first-place votes. Point Park edges Asbury (Ky.) (122 points) and IU Kokomo (114 points) for top honors in that rating. The Pioneers are also in the “others receiving votes” section of the NAIA Volleyball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll (Aug. 18) and check in at No. 29 overall in the country.

2014 YEAR IN REVIEW
The Pioneers won the KIAC Tournament championship to qualify for the NAIA national tournament. Point Park ended the year with a 27-16 overall record and an 8-2 KIAC mark. The Pioneers fell to No. 15 Georgetown (Ky.) in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round in what was their second trip to nationals in a four-year span.

NEW YEAR, SAME GOALS
Point Park begins the 2015 season with its sights once again set on competing for a KIAC championship and making a mark in NAIA volleyball. The Pioneers have 4 of 6 starters returning from last year including NAIA-AVCA All-Northeast Region outside hitter Shiloh Simonson and All-KIAC setter Emily Meng, a transfer last year from Wright State.

HEAD COACH MIKE BRUNO
Mike Bruno is in his 11th year as Point Park head coach. In the last 10 seasons, he has led Point Park to 247 wins for an impressive average of 24.7 wins per year. Bruno is 247-143 (.633) at Point Park. His career record of 363-201 (.643) includes a 116-58 record in five years at Waynesburg (Pa.). The 363 career wins put him in 17th place among active NAIA volleyball head coaches. Coach Bruno has been named a conference Coach of the Year in five of his previous 16 years as a head coach.

SIMONSON LEADS THE WAY
Point Park’s top player is once again Shiloh Simonson, a 5-9 junior outside hitter from Venetia, Pa., and Peters Township High School. She is a six-rotation outside hitter who is back in that role for a third year. Simonson is coming off a strong sophomore season of 399 kills, 424 digs, 68 aces and 38.0 blocks. That earned her All-KIAC First Team and NAIA-AVCA All-Northeast Region accolades.

OTHER TOP RETURNERS
Emily Meng is back for her second year as setter after transferring from the NCAA Division I level and Wright State last season. She led Point Park’s 6-2 offense with 1,187 assists (7.61 per set) and earned all-conference second-team honors. Senior outside hitter Isabella Vavrek (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell HS) is ready for a big final year after putting up 94 kills despite missing some time to injury last year.

Other veterans returning are 6-3 senior middle hitter Cristiane Chaves (Recife, Brazil), 6-2 redshirt junior middle hitter Nikki Inquartano (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler HS) and senior defensive specialist Paige Baker (Kittanning, Pa./Elderton HS).

TOP NEWCOMERS
Megan Branchick joins the attack a 6-2 right-side hitter after transferring from NCAA Division II Edinboro. The North Olmstead, Ohio, native was All-PSAC West 2nd Team at Edinboro when she amassed 375 kills and 74.0 blocks in 2013.

Madison Weldon is a junior setter who has transferred from two-time junior college national runner-up Parkland (IL) College. The Champaign, Ill., native helped Parkland to its second straight national championship game with 897 assists (5.61 per set) last year and joins Meng in Point Park’s 6-2 rotation.

Morgan Dangelo is a 5-2 defensive specialist from Greenwood, Ind. The Mid-States All-Conference performer at Greenwood Community HS had 468 digs in high school and is slated to take over Point Park’s libero role.

TOP PLAYERS LOST
The Pioneers must replace All-KIAC libero Tabea Dalliard, who has returned to her native Switzerland to pursue volleyball opportunities. She ranked seventh in the NAIA with 65 aces and 17th in the NAIA with a team-high 722 digs. Middle hitter Roxanne Grundmeier has graduated after totaling 248 kills and a team-high 102 blocks last year. Also lost to graduation was defensive specialist Olivia Fisher, who ranked third on the team with 382 digs.

FOLLOW THE PIONEERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Keep up to date on the Pioneers via social media. Follow the Pioneers on Twitter & Instragram @PointParkSports and @PointParkVB. Like the athletic department Facebook page at PointParkAthletics.

QUICK FACTS, ROSTER, SCHEDULE
The @PointParkVB 2015 Quick Facts, Roster and Schedule are available at PointPark.edu/Athletics, your source for information on the Pioneers.