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Saturday, April 13, 2024

When the Southeastern Conference all-time digs leader, Elyse Cusack, graduated and Colleen Ward and Brynja Rodgers decided to transfer because of personal reasons, depth was thought to be a problem heading into this season.

Now, it appears to be a strength.

The addition of transfers Stephanie Ferrell, Cinthya Roberto and Tangerine Wiggs changed things.

“(Outside hitters Ferrell and Roberto, and opposite hitter Wiggs) give us depth at two different positions,” said coach Mary Wise, who announced the new transfers on June 30. “I think depth and experience are two of the keys to successful college teams.”

Those three players will join seniors Lauren Bledsoe, Erin Fleming and Callie Rivers, and juniors Kelly Murphy, Kristy Jaeckel and Cassandra Anderson as the core of the squad.

The unexpected loss of Ward and Rodgers opened the door for the new trio.

The fact that the Gators were able to add two juniors in Ferrell and Roberto, and a sophomore in Wiggs gives Wise a better idea of what to expect from them on the college level.

“You can’t get transfers in without open scholarships,” Wise said. “When you are looking at transfers you aren’t projecting out quite as far as when you are recruiting high school talent. It gives us a better sense in terms of their strengths and weaknesses, and what they give us fits to the exact need of what needed to be addressed.”

Ferrell started for a Hawaii squad that made the semifinals of the NCAA Tournament last season. Meanwhile, Roberto also brings some experience after being named as a two-time junior college All-American at Blinn College.

However, Wiggs doesn’t have as much college volleyball under her belt, but Wise expects her to do a lot of damage in the blocking department.

Still, these three players don’t address one glaring loss from last season – the graduation of Cusack.

Fleming is expected to fill that libero spot after an impressive spring. She didn’t start a match last season and picked up just 37 digs in limited time.

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“(Fleming) may have had as good a spring as we have ever had from a player,” Wise said. “She is playing the best volleyball of her career. The position was wide open and Erin just earned it.”

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