Volleyball sets high goals for fall season
By Christian Mengel
September 1, 2012
There are a lot questions still to be answered for this volleyball season. Losing some dynamic offensive players from last season leaves this young team with big responsibilities to take over, and a preseason ranking says they won’t.
The MIAA preseason polls have Missouri Western sitting in ninth place.
Although it may seem disheartening, we all know that predictions in sports hardly ever pan out exactly how things were expected.
There is a tight grouping of teams that were just a few points off each other in the polls this year. Northwest Missouri was put in seventh with 66 points, and Lindenwood in tenth with 59. Both Western and Fort Hays are sitting right between. Western’s young team is just unpredictable enough to be a sleeper and end up showing a lot of people that they are better than what the MIAA says they are.
With eight sophomores and six freshmen on the team, the MIAA probably considers us in a rebuilding state, but junior Justine Buskirk says otherwise.
“Volleyball is going very well so far,” Buskirk said. “I am excited about the new freshmen we have this year as well as the returners that bring a lot to the table. I think we will surprise many opponents this year.”
Buskirk redshirted last season, but had 155 kills and 56 blocks the season before.
The loss of Tahler Johnston was probably the biggest reason for this season’s low rank. Johnston was clearly the team’s offensive weapon last season when she led the team with 381 total kills. Sadly Johnston isn’t the only one who will be missed this season. Sophomore McCormick is the only returning player who was one of the top five scorers last season. McCormick had 161 kills, along with 29 digs and 42 blocks. The only other player to get over 100 kills last season, sophomore Amanda Boender, finished last season with 116 kills.
The top four players of last season who won’t be returning all combined for 1,113 kills.
That is a devastating dent to the offense of this team. It is a lot of pressure for such a young team, but maybe this is the pressure needed to ensure success in the long run. This large sophomore class now has their hardest year out of the way. They should be less nervous now knowing what to expect this season, which should help their focus as a team moving forward. Senior Lindsey Williams believes that the incoming freshmen won’t have a problem fitting into the system.
“I think the incoming freshmen are a solid addition to the team,” Williams said. “They all want to learn and ask questions to fit into the system right away.”
Team setter and junior Stephanie Hattey has been a huge asset for this team in the past. She was named MIAA freshman of the year and made third team all MIAA last season. If anyone knows what it takes to have a high powered offensive game, it’s Hattey. She averaged 10.2 assists per set last season with 1,214 total out of 119 games played. As a freshman she averaged 5.9 assists per set, a total of 637 out of 107 games.
This team will need players to step up to fill in aggressive offensive roles if they want to see success this season.
The team will start this season in a tournament in South Dakota on Aug. 31, but will soon have their home opener and start conference play against Northwest on Sept. 11.