Fri, Aug. 30, 2013 - [Volleyball]
The Loras College volleyball team will have a new face on the sidelines and at least half of the players starting on Friday night will be new as well. The team will be young, without a senior on the roster, and looking to pick up where last year's team left off.
2012 saw the Duhawks finish 17-18 overall, 7-3 at home, and 5-2 (third place) in the IIAC. They knocked off #2 seed Coe in Cedar Rapids in the IIAC semifinals but were kept from the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Championships by Wartburg in Waverly in straight sets.
2013 promises to have a new set of attackers to go along with their new coach.
"We're going to be young," head coach Jenna Ness said this week. "But I think it will give us a chance to learn and grow together as we get our system in place."
Ness has compiled an opening weekend varsity roster of six freshman, four sophomores, and four juniors.
"We've spent the preseason making sure the team knows what the expectations are and what type of practice environment the coaching staff expects," Ness added. "We expect everyone to work hard every time they step on the floor and to push each other in every drill."
Ness won't have 5.21 of the team's 10.88 kills per set (4th in the IIAC a year ago) back. That's because 2012 seniors Cassie Crabill, Kenzie Goedken, and Regan Riley have each picked up their diplomas and put away their caps and gowns.
That leaves junior Kara Grant, who was the team's All-IIAC first team pick a year ago, to pick up where she left off. Grant half of the 1-2 punch with Riley that logged over 1,000 total attacks and 300 kills. She was second to Riley in kills and aces.
Junior Shawn Rielly, who handled the majority of the setter duties a year ago to the tune of 951 assists, is back in that role in 2013.
Christa Winders led the team with 382 digs a year ago from the back line and will wear the off-color libero jersey for Ness.
As far as newcomers to keep an eye on this season, Danielle Kennedy (MB/Dyersville, Iowa/Beckman) showed well in preseason testing and on the floor. Tara Blake (OH/Crystal Lake, Ill./Marian Central Catholic) could also be on the receiving end of Rielly's passes out of the gate in 2013.
The team emerges from preseason with a few injuries, but will be at 100% in the near future.
"Shawn has shown her experience and leadership here in August and Kara will certainly be in a lot of scouting reports based on her sophomore season," Ness added.
"Every conference game is going to be big for us. Dubuque and Luther are right there next to us in the preseason poll and we split with Coe last year (regular season loss, postseason win). Wartburg also has some high school connections to our roster. We're working hard to be ready for everyone."
Wartburg, Coe, Central, and Simpson are all coming to the AWC for IIAC contests. Luther, Buena Vista, and Dubuque are the road portion of the league schedule.
A CLOSER LOOK:
2012 Record: 17-18, 5-2 in the IIAC (4th)
2013 Preseason Coaches' Poll: t-4th
Starters Lost: Regan Riley, Kenzie Goedken, Cassie Crabill
Key Returners: Shawn Rielly, Kara Grant
WATCH THEM IN THE AWC:
Sept. 24, vs. Wartburg
Oct. 9, vs. Coe
Oct. 16, vs. Simpson
Oct. 29 vs. Central
HOSTING A TOURNAMENT:
The Duhawks will be in the AWC hosting the Loras College Invitational on October 18-19. Loras will take on UW-Stevens Point, UW-River Falls, UW-Oshkosh, and William Penn.
Full 2012 Schedule HERE.