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Published 8/23/2004

Owens Community College Volleyball Opens Season at St. Clair Invitational, Aug. 27-28

Owens Community College women's volleyball will open its 2004 season with a tournament this Friday and Saturday, August 27-28 at St. Clair County Community College in Port Huron, Michigan.

The Owens volleyball program is led by fourth-year Head Coach Sonny Lewis of Toledo. During his third season as the head volleyball coach at Owens, Lewis led the Express to a 40-9 overall record. Lewis' Assistant Coaches are Shelli Smith of Sylvania and Jodi Jesion of Oregon.

The Express will open its home campaign against Macomb Community College on Tuesday, August 31. All home matches are played at the College's Student Health and Activities Center (SHAC) on the Toledo-area Campus. Owens is located on Oregon Road, four miles from downtown Toledo. Admission to all home matches is free.

Last season, the Express women's volleyball program ended with a 40-9 overall record. The program captured its fourth consecutive Ohio Community College Athletic Conference (OCCAC) regular season and tournament championships, finishing with an overall 15-0 conference record (OCCAC regular season and tournament matches).

During this title run, Owens has accumulated a record-setting 61 consecutive OCCAC match-winning streak. In addition, Owens' volleyball team advanced to its first-ever NJCAA Division II National Championship tournament where they finished fifth among 12 participating intercollegiate teams.

"Our coaching staff is very excited about this year's team," Lewis said. "We have a good nucleus of first-year and returning players who have a lot of potential. I expect the hard work and dedication, put forth by our student-athletes in the preseason, to pay off in the regular season as we compete for another conference championship."

The Express have eight players returning from last year's championship team, including OCCAC Honorable Mention All-Conference selection Courtney Caldwell of Lambertville, Michigan (Bedford High School). In 2003, the sophomore outside hitter played in 139 games and recorded 317 kills, 82 blocks, 343 digs and 46 aces. She also was named to the NJCAA Region XII and OCCAC all-tournament teams and was an OCCAC Academic All-Conference selection.

Also returning to Lewis' squad are Ashley Hill of Bellevue (Bellevue High School), Risa Smith of Lambertville, Michigan (Start High School) and Danielle Rego of Toledo (Bowsher High School).

Hill, a sophomore libero, ranks first among Owens All-Time Dig Leaders with 732 for a season and played in a team record 151 games. Her postseason honors included selection to the NJCAA All-Region XII Team and OCCAC First Team All-Conference. In 2003, Smith played in 150 games and recorded 52 kills. The sophomore outside hitter was second on the team with 448 digs and 88 aces. Rego is a sophomore middle blocker. Last year, she was selected as the team's Most Improved Player and earned OCCAC All-Tournament Team honors. Rego played in 141 games and ranks second among Owens All-Time Block Leaders with 226 for a season.

Other returning student-athletes include Melissa Fleig of Toledo, setter (Springfield High School); Ashlee Kwiatkowski of Northwood, outside hitter (Northwood High School); Amy Czupich of Temperance, Michigan, outside hitter (Bedford High School), and Brianne Sawyer of Millbury, middle blocker (Lake High School).

First-year players to the Express women's volleyball program are Ceara Barr of Vickery, setter (Fremont Ross High School); Mallory Bieringer of Temperance, Michigan, outside hitter (Bedford High School); Anna Rauch of Wyandotte, Michigan, setter (Roosevelt High School); Alexi Carnicom of Gibsonburg, rightside hitter (Gibsonburg High School), and Kelli Fisher of Perrysburg, middle blocker (Perrysburg High School).

At the conclusion of the NJCAA volleyball season, Owens Community College will host the Division II NJCAA National Volleyball Championship for the fourth consecutive year. All tournament matches will be held at the College's Student Health and Activities Center (SHAC) on the Toledo-area Campus. Prior to serving as the Division II National Championship site, Owens hosted three Division III tournaments.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 28 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo- area and Findlay-area campuses, Owens serves more than 44,000 credit and non- credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four-year college or university.


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