Wed, Sep. 5, 2012 - [Volleyball]
By Jim Naprstek, Assistant Sports Information Director
After winning the Iowa Conference regular season title only two years ago, the Loras College Duhawks are itching to return to their winning ways behind head coach Teresa Kehe. Key players remain from that roster, but new and upcoming Duhawks are beginning to make headlines of their own. Even the seniors know that a true team effort will be required all season long if they want to return their team to glory.
"This year's team is a nice blend of returning veterans and young newcomers. Our overall competitiveness and team chemistry has been enhanced with the strong work ethic, determination, and the skill level of our new players," Coach Teresa Kehe said.
Last Friday night, Loras opened up their 2012 season at the Augustana Viking Classic. The hosts were first on the schedule. Senior Regan Riley led the way for the Duhawks with 11 kills, while sophomore Shawn Rielly contributed 37 assists. Loras would win in straight sets 25-20, 27-25, 25-10.
In the second match of the tournament, Loras played a tough, hard fought battle against our city neighbors, the Clarke Crusaders. Unlike the first match, the Duhawks would be hard pressed if they wanted to keep their winning ways in check. Riley and sophomore Kara Grant would combine for 19 kills against the Crusaders alongside another great performance by Rielly who finished with 44 assists. In games like this, Loras needed to rely on the defensive prowess of Christa Winders, Cassie Crabill, and Shawn Rielly, who would combine for 52 digs. The Duhawks would outlast the Crusaders after going five sets, 25-17, 17-25, 25-16, 13-25, 16-14. Winning a five set match like that will go a long way for Loras as they continue on throughout their season.
"I think the biggest reason for the success is that we all work extremely hard in practice," sophomore Kara Grant said, "Coach Kehe has been working a lot with communication, passing, and pursing the ball."
Their luck would run out though in their third match of the season against Greenville College. Greenville posted a 22-9 overall record and a 14-2 conference record last season, which left Loras knowing fully well that it would be a tough test if they wanted to keep their record unblemished. Despite another solid outing from Riley and Rielly, Loras would come up short, losing in four sets, 16-25, 21-25, 25-15, 27-29.
Blackburn College faced off against the Duhawks to wrap up the weekend. Loras would bounce back after their loss to Greenville, winning 25-8, 25-19, 25-12. This time Cassie Crabill and Kara Grant would lead the offensive charge for the Duhawks with 13 kills apiece. Rielly would once again lead the team in assists with 31, and Grant would lead the team in digs with 12.
"This weekend we were able to block more effectively than we have in recent seasons and our offense was much quicker as a result of better passing," Kehe said.
Duhawks Kara Grant and Christa Winders were named to the All-Tournament Team at the conclusion of the weekend.
The Duhawks continue their season Wednesday night, traveling to take on William Penn College before participating in the UW-Platteville Tournament this weekend.