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Depth key for young Georgian Court volleyball team

Georgian Court University’s women’s volleyball team, facing what Dan Sempkowski regards as the school’s toughest schedule in his five years as coach, will have some support from sharp newcomers when it opens its season Sept. 2 in St. Charles, Missouri, at the Lindonwood University Invitational.

Georgian Court first will play the University of Missouri-St. Louis and Maryville University Sept. 2 and then play the host-Lions and Northwest Missouri State University the following day.

“We’re adjusting to the new people but will have much more depth this season than in years past,” Sempkowski said, as his team will host its Lions Invitational tournament Sept. 9-10 that includes Caldwell College, New York Institute of Technology, Southern New Hampshire University and West Chester University.

Vanelix “Gaby” Merced, a freshman from Toms River who was the Shore Player of the Year at St. John Vianney High School, leads the newcomers at libero along with Shana Rayside of Lakewood and Amy Bruno of Barnegat as outside hitters. Janelli Torres Diaz, a libero who grew up in Canovanas, Puerto Rico, is a transfer from Coffeyville Community College.

Georgian Court was 20-15 overall and 13-6 in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference last season.

Back from last season for the team that was eliminated in the conference tournament quarterfinals are seniors Kelsie Blue and Kelsey Oliver, who were both all-conference selections.

“They’re part of a team that showed great defense and ball control last season. We’re ready to take the next step against some strong teams on our schedule,” Sempkowski said.

Georgian Court plays at Chestnut Hill College in its conference opener Sept. 16 and hosts conference opponent Bloomfield College the following day.

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