As Southern Conference play approaches, the Chattanooga Mocs are 6-6, already eclipsing last season's win total just 12 games into 2012. While the offense is the main contributor in reaching the 25-point plateau, the defense has been a major factor to UTC's success early this season.
Going into the season, head coach Travis Filar said passing and defensing would be Chattanooga's strength. The Mocs returned two defensive specialists and added depth to the position with yet another listed on the roster.
"We are so strong in that position because we have Paula Passmore (Merritt Island, Fla.) and Melissa Green (Boca Raton, Fla.) as returners, and we have had Catherine Chason (Alpharetta, Ga.) to come in as a great addition to our back-row play. "
Passmore returns for her senior season with a stellar career, thus far, already under her belt. The Merritt Island, Fla., native was named the 2010 SoCon Libero of the Year after amassing 654 digs during her second season with the Mocs, and her 264 digs on the young season brings her career total to 1896 for third all-time at UTC.
Green, the Mocs second returner, is in her second season and was relied on heavily last year, along with Passmore, to guide the defense. The defensive specialist from Boca Raton, Fla., collected 399 digs in her first go-around with Chattanooga last season. Green was called upon to play 113 sets through 32 matches for UTC. Already, Green has 92 digs while sharing the floor in 12 matches played.
Chason is Chattanooga's defensive newcomer who will wear many hats for the Mocs in 2012. The Alpharetta, Ga., freshman will serve as a defensive specialist as well as the backup setter. Catherine is currently third on the team in digs with 73.
"I consider them as three liberos," Filar said." I don't believe there are a lot of teams in our conference that can say they have three legitimate options at the libero position. Obviously, we can only play one libero, but we can use the other two in defensive specialists' roles. The three of them as a group have really elevated the play of our passing, ball control and defending, and they have been great in out-of-system setting. If our setter, Bridget Camacho (Cumming, Ga.), is taking the first ball, any of those three do a great job of coming in and giving hittable balls to our attackers. That is invaluable for us. That gives us more time to focus on the offense because we can count on that group to take care of the defense."
The Mocs hit the road for their last tournament of the season Friday as they compete in the Indiana Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind. Chattanooga squares off against Miami (Ohio), Indiana and Valparaiso over the weekend before opening Southern Conference play the following weekend at home against Appalachian State.