MOUNT OLIVE, N.C. - The University of Mount Olive men's volleyball team gets set to kick off the 2018 season this Friday, January 12, as they head to Pennsylvania to face Division I opponent Penn State in University Park, Penn.
The 2018 slate poses the Trojans with 18 road matches, including five games against Division I opponents, and 10 home matches played in Kornegay Arena throughout the spring of 2018. The Trojans return 11 student-athletes from the 2017 team that went 18-10 overall and 14-4 in conference competition.
A duo of two-time captains Jeff Yasalonis, a senior setter, and Shane Yeo, a junior setter, lead the returning players for Coach Heller's squad. Joining the two captains are seniors Robert Poole, Josh Donahue, Kian Hollevoet, and Bret Rutledge, juniors Joel Roberts and Brad Monaghan and sophomores Fabian Ramen, Jesiah Orr and Yigit Erkek.
New to the roster this year are nine freshmen from across the globe. The incoming class includes five international student-athletes, Torkil Aarflot, Iyanu Adebisi, Max Cristina, Nikolas Dybkilde Bach, and Joshua Symons, as well as four players from the states, Brian Capp, Jerell Rogers, Eric Visgitis, and Luke Visgitis.
UMO begins the season with four road games over the course of seven days as the Trojans head to Pennsylvania to face No. 9 Penn State on Friday, Jan. 12, and follow with a match against the Red Flash of No. 15 Saint Francis on Saturday, Jan. 13. Mount Olive returns to North Carolina for their next game traveling to Charlotte to take on the Royals of Queen University on Tuesday, Jan. 16, before traveling up Interstate-95 for a match at Division I George Mason on the 19th.
Mount Olive opens up their home schedule when they return to Kornegay Arena on January 26 and 27 for a pair of Conference Carolinas matches against Emmanuel and Erskine respectively.
The team then hits the road for two more road games at Limestone and North Greenville before returning to Mount Olive for a six-game homestand over the course of 11 days from February 13 to 24. The Trojans will host Coker, Belmont Abbey, Queens, Barton, King and Lees-McRae throughout the last half of February.
After the conclusion of the homestand, Mount Olive takes to the road for a long road trip from February 27 to March 17, that has the team traveling across the country to play the Division I schools Long Beach State and Grand Canyon. While at Grand Canyon University the Trojans will play in a tournament against Menlo College, Ottawa University and GCU.
UMO will also play at Coker, Belmont Abbey, Emmanuel, and Erskine, before returning back to Mount Olive for the final two home games of the regular season against Limestone and North Greenville on March 23 and 24.
"We have a great mix of returners and incoming freshmen," said head coach David Heller. "Not every day do you return four all-conference players and have as physical of a first-year class as we have. We preach competition and bettering yourself every day in practice. This group of student-athletes has managed to create an amazing culture where they value work ethic, having fun on the court, and being successful in the classroom. It makes my job really easy and even more fun when the team comes eager to learn and get better."
Heller continued saying, "The team is adapting really well to uncomfortable situations and focusing on skills they know they need to get better at while making it a high-energy environment. We have high expectations for ourselves in and out of conference this year. We are talking a lot in the preseason about accountability and how to control yourself in a stressful environment. We are really excited to get our season started and show everyone the hard work we've been putting in since August. It's a long preparation for our season, but every training session will be worth it."