GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The inaugural season for the Tusculum University men's volleyball program starts with a four-match home stretch, beginning January 8.
TU head coach Eddie Pennington and the Pioneers will play 25 matches, eight at home, culminating with the Independent Volleyball Association (IVA) Championship in mid-April. The Belmont Abbey graduate was named Tusculum's first men's volleyball head coach in December 2018 after spending the past two seasons on staff at Division I Butler University.
Pennington has built a roster comprised of 12 student-athletes including eight freshmen, three transfers, and one graduate student who bring a wealth of experience to the 2020 squad.
King, an in-state foe, is set to come to Greeneville as the first-ever opponent on Wednesday. The Tornado have faced two nationally-ranked opponents on the road to begin the season. King took one set off of No. 11 Loyola Chicago and was swept by No. 6 Lewis. The Bristol, Tennessee team finished 2019 as the runner-up in the Conference Carolinas tournament and completed the season with a record of 20-10 and a 14-2 mark in league action.
Urbana and Mount Olive will be a part of the tri-match within the confines of Pioneer Arena on Saturday. The Blue Knights are also a first year program and opened their inaugural campaign at home with a four-set loss to North Greenville. Before their match with the Pioneers, the Blue Knights will travel to Ohio State on Tuesday and King on Friday.
Ahead of Saturday's tri-match, Mount Olive will open their season at Lincoln Memorial on Tuesday before traveling to Lindenwood (Mo.) and Quincy. The North Carolina squad is coming off of an 11-16 overall mark in 2019 and were the No. 4 seed in the Conference Carolinas tournament with a 9-7 record in league play.
MEET THE TEAM
The inaugural Tusculum men's volleyball roster has representation from three countries (Brazil, Jamaica, and Italy), alongside players from Michigan, Florida, Maryland, Tennessee, Nevada, and Virginia.
Former Coker College (now University) right side hitter Shaun Kampshoff is one of two student-athletes with NCAA experience on the TU roster. The Las Vegas, Nevada sophomore finished the season with 52 kills, 11 assists, eight service aces, 27 digs, and 11 total blocks in 11 matches played. The Cobras, in their final season of competition, claimed the bronze in the IVA Tournament.
Coming in as a libero, Peter Stewart graduated from Florida State University in December and is set to be the first post-baccalaureate student-athlete for Pennington's program. The Casselberry, Fla. native played his freshman season at Belmont Abbey, where he saw action in 12 matches and 20 sets as a setter during the 2016 campaign. Stewart recorded three kills, 48 assists, eight digs, and an ace in his lone season as a Crusader.
Arthur Amorim (Maringa, PR, Brazil) and Jaret Knight (Grand Blanc, Mich.) are both sophomore transfers from Cumberland University. The Brazilian middle blocker was named to the All-NAIA second team and ranked 19th in NAIA Division I in hitting percentage at .350, 28th in total kills (259), and 31st in total blocks (70). The Michigan libero finish his first season with 51 assists, 15 aces, and 110 digs. The Phoenix advanced to the second round of the Mid-South Conference Championship before falling to the No. 1 seed and eventual champion St. Andrews.
Eight freshmen will be looking to contribute for the Pioneers this year: Lucas Blanco (Miami, Fla./Immaculata-La Salle HS), Tom Kait (Edgewater, Md./South River HS), Jacob Rambo (Jonesborough, Tenn./David Crockett HS), Ivan Sosa (Miami, Fla./Southwest Senior HS), Shaphar Grant (Kingston, Jamaica/Jerome I. Case HS), Matteo Miselli (Reggio Emilia, Italy/IIS A. Zanelli), Mackenzie Scott (Chester, Va./Thomas Dale HS), and Hunter Walck (Chesapeake, Va./Deep Creek HS).