July 25, 2013
As the University of Pittsburgh volleyball team looks forward to its inaugural ACC campaign, the Panthers return the core of their roster in 2013 as 12 are coming back, but minus three graduating seniors from last year's squad. That void will look to be filled by incoming freshmen Lauren Anderson, Ellie Burns and Jenna Potts.
Having been on campus for almost a month now, Anderson, Burns and Potts have had time to assimilate themselves to workouts, classes and the everyday life of a college student at Pitt.
Hailing from Peoria, Ariz., Anderson was a standout for Liberty High. The outsider hitter led her team to a 25-10 finish as a senior and was a three-time Peoria Unified School District First-Team selection. Anderson helped Liberty to a 78-23 record in her final three years in high school and finished state runners-up as a sophomore. Playing club for Arizona Desert Sky from 2007-2012, her team compiled a 94-6 record.
"It's great here," Anderson said. "I actually love the weather. It is nothing like the 120 degrees of Arizona. The team is amazing. They were very accepting to the freshmen and it helped me from high school to college volleyball. Everybody just wants you to get better and better.
A local talent from Clarion Area High School, Burns was a highly decorated recruit that led the Bobcats to the Pennsylvania State Championship title as a senior. The 5-5 libero was a 4-time Regional Champion, a 4-time KSAC Champion and a 3-time District IX Champion. Burns was also the District IX MVP as a senior and she was strong in the classroom as well, graduating with honors. Being raised in the greater Pittsburgh area, Burns is familiar with playing at Pitt.
"I play club here and we play right out of the [Fitzgerald] Field House, so this gym has always felt like home to me," Burns said. "The biggest thing I have noticed from high school to college volleyball is that everyone is good here. In high school you have a couple of great players here and there, and I was very fortunate to have a high school team with a lot of great players, but at college, everyone is great and the level of play is on a different scale. We are no longer the big fish in a small pond."
Standing at 6-3, middle blocker Jenna Potts enters her first season as a Panther but her second year in college. Potts transferred from Xavier where she was a member of last year's Musketeer team, but used her redshirt as she sat out the season with a medical injury.
A native of Bernville, Pa. Potts attended Schuylkill Valley High School and was a member of the 1,000 career kills club and earned All-State as a senior. Potts was a four-time Berks County All-District Team recipient as well. She also reached Club Junior Nationals twice playing for Synergy Volleyball from 2008-11. Potts excelled in the classroom as well, finishing in the top 10 percentile of her class.
"Coming here I was a little nervous because I didn't how I would fit in," Potts said. "But as soon as I got here from day one I have felt so comfortable with the team. They are very accepting, as Lauren said, and I love it here. I'm also happy to have the chance to play this year. The competition of the ACC is going to be amazing and I am really looking forward to that."
The Panthers open the season on August 30th in a five team tournament hosted by the University of Missouri, which includes the host Tigers, Arkansas State, Idaho State and South Dakota.