CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- The Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team is just three days away from opening its season in Houston, Texas against Tulsa at the Houston Baptist Westchase Classic. With first whistle coming Friday at 5:30 p.m., Head Coach Travis Filar is looking to put his best six on the court, but that will be an especially tough decision to make at the outside hitter’s position for the fourth-year coach.
“It’s a very deep position,” Filar said. “It has provided a ton of great competition in our practices. I think it’s a position that’s going to be a strong point for us. We have three returning juniors and a returning sophomore looking claim a spot in the lineup.”
The junior’s include Julimar Alvarado (San Juan, Puerto Rico), Callie Hildebrand (Signal Mountain, Tenn.) and 2013’s leading scorer Briana Reid (Houston, Texas). Second-highest scorer Allie Davenport (Tyrone, Ga.) returns for a second season after starting 23 matches as a true freshman last year.
“Briana, at this point, is our most solid six-rotation outside hitter,” Filar said. “She is very confident and has been very steady every day in the gym. She is strong in both the front court and the back court.”
Reid proved that last season with 303.5 total points, racking up 265 kills while also recording 396 digs. Ried stands just under six feet but makes up inches with her hops. The Texan managed 47 blocks last year.
Alongside Reid, Alvarado holds the same tenure as a Moc. Entering her third season with the program, Alvarado provides versatility as both an outside and right side hitter while also posing a threat as a blocker. A former member of the Puerto Rican U20 National Team, the junior stands at a menacing 6-foot-2 and is tough to hit against.
“Julie has the ability to play on both the left and right sides,” Filar said. “She can play from the right as a second-tempo attacker. Fans may see her moving around the court a lot because of her versatility.”
Hildebrand, Chattanooga’s third returning junior at the position, enters her second season at UTC after transferring from Gardner-Webb at the close of the 2012 campaign. A native of Signal Mountain, Tenn., the hometown talent looks to see more time on the court after a strong spring.
“She has shown the greatest strides at the position from the end of spring til now,” Filar said. “She has a strong arm and will definitely help us out down the road.”
Hildebrand saw action in 18 sets during her sophomore season. She totaled 11 kills in 11 matches in 2013.
Davenport, the youngest outside hitter on roster, is anything but a rookie. The sophomore played in 102 sets as a newcomer and posted 238 kills, averaging 2.33 kills per set to pace the offense.
“She played a lot of volleyball for us as a freshman last year,” Filar said. “Continue to expect a lot from Allie, and she is going to compete for the starting spot as an outside hitter.”
Davenport is also strong on the defensive side of the net, managing 138 digs and 36 blocks in the previous year.