LU football, volleyball and soccer practices begin

LU football, volleyball and soccer practices begin

The Lamar Cardinals opened football camp Aug. 4 and saw 44 lettermen return from last season including preseason senior All-Americans Kade Harrington (running back) and Bret Treadway (offensive lineman), to go along with a signing class that ranked fourth nationally at the FCS level this past February.

Fans of the Red and White have more reasons to smile than just the return of the reigning Southland Player of the Year, as senior quarterback Carson Earp is also back for his final season in a Cardinal uniform. After a 2015 campaign that saw him locked in a battle for the starting job only to suffer an injury in the fourth game of the year, Earp is back showing no ill effects from that injury. He looked so impressive during spring camp that head coach Ray Woodard awarded him the starting job.

In addition to the excitement surrounding the start of a new season, the Cardinals also strengthened their roster last week by adding a transfer from New Mexico State in dual-threat quarterback Andrew Allen (6-2, 200). Allen will have two years of eligibility with the Cardinals after starting eight of the 17 games he played in with the Aggies of New Mexico State.

Allen has the ability to hurt defenses with his arm and his feet. He amassed nearly 1,700 yards passing and 16 touchdowns during his two seasons, while rushing for 352 yards during that stretch.

A highly recruited prospect from Texas City High School, Allen passed for more than 4,300 yards and 45 touchdowns during his career, while rushing for nearly 700 yards. Allen was a unanimous first-team all-district selection after guiding Texas City to a 25-10 record as a starter, including a near perfect 12-1 mark during the 2013 season.

Fans can catch a glimpse during two scrimmages, both starting at 7 p.m.: Saturday, Aug. 13, and Sunday, Aug. 21.

Soccer

The Steve Holeman era of Lamar University soccer officially got underway Aug. 3 as the Cardinals held their first official practice of the season as they prepare for the Aug. 19 season opener against Texas State at the LU Soccer Complex.

“This is an exciting time for us,” Holeman said. “This is why we do what we do. Sometimes there are so many other responsibilities that we don’t get to coach as much as we’d like. I love doing this.”

Holeman, who posted a 218-164-42 record over 21 seasons as a head coach at Ole Miss, Auburn and Georgia with six trips to the NCAA Tournament, takes over an LU squad that has failed to make the Southland Conference Tournament in each of the past three seasons, a streak he would like to see come to an end this season.

“Getting to the conference tournament is foremost in our minds,” Holeman said. “But we won’t be happy if we just get to the tournament and lose in the first round. We want to compete for a conference title this season.”

The Cardinals went 8-11-1 last season and 4-6-1 in conference play, missing out in a tiebreaker with Central Arkansas for the final spot in the conference tournament. LU returns seven starters from last season, including sophomore Jordan Mulnix, who was a first-team All-Southland Conference selection last year after setting a school record with 28 points and tying a school mark with 12 goals.

“We worked harder than ever today,” said Mulnix. “We know that the coaches are going to push us hard, but we are going to be better for it. None of us have been to the tournament, and that’s something we definitely want to do this year.”

Season tickets and individual-game tickets are on sale now at the LU ticket office in the Montagne Center or online at lamarcardinals.com.

Volleyball

Lamar University volleyball head coach Alan Edwards and his Cardinal squad opened season three under his leadership when they reported Aug. 7 and began preseason practice on Monday.

“I miss those kids. You miss the relationships when the kids go away for a couple of months during the summer,” said Edwards. “We’ve been sending text messages back and forth, and those increase in frequency as we get closer to start day. Those kids are all super excited, and that makes it really, really easy for me to get excited.”

This year’s excitement is a lot different than last season’s. Edwards returns 15 players from last year’s team, eight of whom are sophomores. He only has one newcomer in camp this season, freshman Dannisha House.

“We bring back four defensive specialists, who saw their ball control improve during the spring. We bring back a young and experienced group of pin hitters,” said Edwards. “They approach what they do the right way. They approach the learning process the right way. It’s exciting to get back in the gym and teach and coach.”

Also in the group of returners are four seniors, including first-team All-Southland Conference honoree Chelsea Grant. She ranked third in the Southland Conference in hitting percentage (.352) and was second in blocks per set at 1.25 blocks in 2015. Her total blocks sat at 140 this season, a career high, and it also leaves her 155 short of being LU’s all-time leader. Her career total of 395 is eighth in the all-time record books.

In her career, she’s played in more than 300 sets that span 86 matches. The Killeen native has totaled 2.24 kills per set with a .273 hitting percentage. Her block average sits at 1.29 per set with 65 solo blocks and 330 block assists.

“Chelsea is Chelsea. There aren’t many people in the league who can jump the way she can with the arm she has,” said Edwards. “That entire group of seniors is an interesting group.”

Ashley Ellis is 122 assists away from joining the all-time list at Lamar University. Both she and Haley Morton are returners in the LU system. Ellis has 1,656 career assists that equal to 7.56 per set over 67 matches and 219 sets played.

“Ashley started for us for the last two years, and I’ve told her that she can do things you don’t see many setters do,” said Edwards. “Over the course of the last four or five months, her game has matured,  and she has matured. The way she approaches her game is a little bit different, and I think she is learning what to get out of her teammates in terms of what she is demanding of them.”

Nicole Parish appeared in 28 matches last year with 15 starts, and ranked fourth in total kills and kills per set on the team. She averaged 1.39 kills per set and 1.47 digs per set over the course of her first three years with Big Red.

“If Nicole can stay healthy, she can give you a really steady, calming and analytical presence on the court,” said Edwards.

Lauren Stahlman heads into camp as the front-runner of a young group of defensive specialists. She took over at the libero last season and ranked sixth in the Southland Conference with 3.95 digs per set, which topped the Cardinals. She also ranked second on the team in service aces (28).

“Lauren could have a really, really great year. If you do that means, it means nobody has talked about you because you made no mistakes,” said Edwards. “That is what we need from her. As a team, we know we need to get better offensively and we need to be able to shut down an opponent’s offense. A lot of that falls on her shoulders. She is going to be big for us.”

Along with its bevy of sophomores, LU also brings back juniors Morton, Amy Hollowell and Carlyn Stella, all of whom bring experience to the table.

“I think we are in a pretty good situation, and we have a lot to prove. It’s time that we do that,” said Edwards. “For us, it has to be about developing a winning mentality. There’s going to be a lot of talk this preseason about being good over time, not just for one day and not the next.”

The Cardinals were picked 11th and 12th in the sports information directors and coaches preseason polls, respectively. They will spend their first 15 matches on the road before returning to McDonald Gym to take on Central Arkansas in league action on Oct. 6.

Athletic trainer

Katie Barker has been named assistant athletics trainer at Lamar University, Director of Athletics Jason Henderson said, and will serve as the trainer for women’s basketball.

Barker comes to LU from the University of Southern Mississippi, where she served as assistant athletic trainer for the past five seasons, working with the women’s basketball, women’s soccer, women’s tennis and the cheer and dance teams. Barker served as a graduate assistant athletic trainer at Southern Miss for two seasons prior to being named an assistant athletic trainer at the school. She also served as the director of the annual student trainer workshop at Southern Miss and taught courses in athletic training and kinesiology.

“We’re very excited to have Katie as a member of our sports medicine team,” head athletics trainer Joshua Yonker said. “She brings several years of experience in athletics, including women’s basketball. She will also be heavily involved with our student internship program. We look forward to her leadership.”

Barker earned a Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training, cum laude, from the University of West Florida in 2008. She earned a Master of Science degree in sports coaching education and a doctorate degree in education administration from Southern Mississippi.

As a student at West Florida, Barker served as the president of the university’s Athletic Training Student Association during her senior year. While at Southern Miss, she served on the training staffs for the Conference USA volleyball and baseball tournaments.

Barker holds certifications from the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the state of Mississippi and the American Red Cross.

Baseball camp

High school baseball players wishing to display their skills will have the opportunity on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 9 a.m. at the Lamar University Baseball Prospect Camp at Vincent-Back Stadium.

The Major League style showcase will give 9th-12th graders the opportunity to work out in front of new head coach Will Davis and staff. The high-intensity camp is for high school players looking to play at the collegiate level.

The cost for attendance is $100 for players wishing to compete in the hitters and pitchers camps and $30 for just the pitcher camp. For more information, call (409) 880-8327 or view lamaruniversitybaseballcamps.com.

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