Wed, Aug. 29, 2012 - [Volleyball]
The Loras College volleyball team has won two of the last four IIAC regular season titles. They've regularly produced All-IIAC and All-Region players during head coach Teresa Kehe's six previous years in charge of the Duhawks – including two Iowa Conference MVPs. In 2012, the team aims for a return to the top of the always competitive Iowa Conference.
"I feel this year's team is a group that has learned from last year's successes as well as shortcomings and will be striving for more," Kehe said earlier this week. "Their (the 2012 team's) intensity has not wavered throughout preseason – which is hopefully a sign of good things to come."
Leading that unwavering intensity and a likely source of the ‘good things' are the three seniors on the 2012 roster, Cassie Crabill, Kenzie Goedken, and Regan Riley.
"They've provided great leadership through their encouragement and efforts all preseason," says Kehe.
The trio also provided 61% percent of the team's kills (nearly 800 in all) in 2011, representing three of the four top attackers from a year ago.
"They have proven that they are here to win and plan to make an impact when they step on the floor for our opening matches," Kehe noted.
The Duhawks will have a fresh face joining the senior trio in sophomore transfer Kara Grant. A native of Peosta, Iowa, she led the St. Mary's (Minnesota) Cardinals in kills (457/3.81 per set) as a freshman and chipped in with 22 aces and over 200 digs. Grant will try to improve on Loras' .159 hitting percentage in 2011.
"She can make a significant impact for us with her ability to terminate from anywhere on the floor," Kehe said. "She is an exciting player to watch."
One obvious void to fill for the 2012 Duhawks is the setter position. Julie Rogers finished third in program history with 3,100 assists from 2008-11. Kehe will likely turn to sophomore Shawn Rielly in 2012. Rielly put up 72 assists in 31 sets a year ago.
"She is more than ready to take over as our quarterback from the setting position," proclaimed Kehe. "She is a threat in all facets of the game with outstanding placement of the ball, excellent decision making skills, is always aggressive with the second contact and has a great serve to match the rest of her game."
The schedule will be a tough one, especially in the IIAC, where the Duhawks will be on the road for Wartburg, Central, and Coe – each picked to finish at the top of the league by the coaches in the preseason poll.
"It will be a challenge," said Kehe, but, "we will take on traditional top 25 teams at various tournaments throughout the season. We'll be tested and, as I said earlier, hopefully focused and energized throughout the season."
A CLOSER LOOK:
2011 Record: 10-23, 4-4 in the IIAC (t-4th)
2012 Preseason Coaches' Poll: Fourth
Starters Lost: Julie Rogers/Setter, Kaity Frost
Key Returners: Regan Riley, Kenzie Goedken, Cassie Crabill,
Also keep an eye on: Kirsten Schultz, Anna Wernimont, Micaela Mertens
WATCH THEM IN THE AWC:
Sept. 12, vs. Dubuque
Sept. 26, vs. Luther
Oct. 4, vs. Rockford
Oct. 16 vs. Buena Vista
Oct. 26 vs. Clarke
HOSTING A TOURNAMENT:
The Duhawks will be in the AWC hosting the Loras College Invitational on October 19-20. Joining Loras at the event are: Coe, Luther, Dubuque, Iowa Wesleyan, and UW-Oshkosh.
Full 2012 Schedule HERE.