VOLLEYBALL | 09
“Depth is a luxury we have not had in some time,” said McDaniel. “This season we are deep in every position on the court. Our practices will be very competitive, as playing time will be shared at various times throughout the season. The players will be pushing one another and will bring out the best in each other.”
Senior outside hitter Emily Madden needs 194 kills to break into Drake’s top-10 career kills list.
Drake volleyball will build on the success of last season and continue its reemergence as a competitive team. The Bulldogs return all six starters along with 13 letter winners to a squad that posted the highest number of wins (12) since the 1998 campaign. “Our team has had one goal since finishing the 2008 season: to be playing in Omaha over Thanksgiving 2009,” said second-year head coach Phil McDaniel. “We spent the spring working very hard to develop in some key areas of our play, while working to continue to build on the strengths we have discovered as a team. I am excited to get this group on the court and am eager to see how far this group of athletes can take our program.” Below is a position and schedule breakdown of the 2009 Drake Bulldogs:
Leading the attack will be junior outside hitter Angela Bys and senior outside hitter Emily Madden.
Bys led the team in kills (397), kills per game (3.31) and total attacks (1,117) and was second on the team with 26 service aces and fourth with 239 digs. She again made a mark in the record books, ranking seventh in single-season kills and total attacks. Madden, the team’s top all-around player, started every match last season and ranked second on the team in total attacks (236), kills (236), kills per game (2.00) and digs (298) and registered 58 blocks, ranking third. Adding depth to the attack this season are junior middle hitter Nicole Brown, junior outside hitter Alisa DeBerg Roth, sophomore middle hitter Michelle Reidy and redshirt sophomore outside hitter Mikayla Sims. Brown played in 20 matches last season, collecting 89 kills and 47 blocks. DeBerg Roth continued her consistent play, ranking third on the team with 216 kills (1.79 per game) and second with 78 blocks. Reidy is the team’s top returning blocker, collecting 91 block assists and eight solo blocks last season and Sims collected 184 kills last season.
Emily Sibigtroth (right side) and redshirt freshmen Emily Heffernen (middle hitter) and Alyssa Becker (outside hitter) will provide back-up at the attack positions this fall. Sibigtroth, a transfer from Anderson University, becomes eligible this season. Heffernen was the 2007 Iowa Class 3A Player of the Year at West Delaware High School. Becker was a first-team all-conference selection as a senior at Jesup High School (Jesup, Iowa). Three newcomers in freshmen middle hitter Stacie Hansen and outside hitters Whitney Westrum and Bentley Mancini look to make an immediate impact this season. Hansen is the all-time career and single-season kills leader at Lincoln Southwest High School (Lincoln, Neb.), where she was a three-time all-state competitor. Westrum earned Iowa Girls Coaches Association’ special mention Class 4A all-state honors as an outside hitter last season at Waukee High School. Mancini was a two-time all-conference selection at Apple Valley High School in Apple Valley, Minn. “Our three newcomers bring experience, speed and size to our squad and will make us that much more athletic as a whole,” commented McDaniel. “We are looking forward to having them in the gym to push our veteran players. They all add depth to our team.”
Senior setter Chelsea Lauersdorf looks to continue her domination from last season as the team’s top returning setter. Lauersdorf led the team in assists and service aces last season with 1,003 and 32, respectively and was third with 267 digs. She moved into third place on the career assist charts, totaling 2,150 over three seasons. Challenging Lauersdorf at the setter position are junior Susan Clausen and sophomore Caitlin Johnson. Clausen played in 41 games last season, collecting 15 assists and seven service aces, while Johnson saw playing time in 48 games and was second on the team with 153 assists.
Junior defensive specialist Alana Wittenburg continued as the team’s top defender, recording a school-record 603 digs last season. With 1,026 career digs, she ranks fourth in Bulldog history. Senior Lindsay Schryver and sophomore Erika Price add depth to the defensive specialist posi-
The Bulldogs look to build on the momentum from last season to earn their first MVC tournament bid since 1998.
tion. Schryver collected 215 digs in 117 games, averaging 1.84, good for fifth place on the team and Price played in 34 matches last season.
The road will not be easy for Drake as the schedule includes four teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament a year ago. The Bulldogs’ slate also features 15 home matches in the Drake Knapp Center. “This schedule will challenge our team,” McDaniel commented. “Our non-conference matches, along with the strength of the Missouri Valley Conference schedule, will prepare us for reaching our team goals.” The Bulldogs will open their campaign competing in tournaments each of the first three weekends of the season, including hosting the fiveteam Hampton Inn Drake Invitational. Drake kicks off the year at the IPFW Invitational, battling Butler, Kent State, Eastern Illinois and the host Mastodons. The Bulldogs open their home schedule hosting South Dakota, Valparaiso, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and Centenary in the Hampton Inn Drake Invitational. Drake follows with a trip to Iowa City, Iowa, to face a pair of in-state rivals at the Hawkeye Challenge. The Bulldogs battle Northern Colorado before tangling with both Iowa State and Iowa on Sept. 12. “The first three tournament weekends will be a solid test for our group,” McDaniel said. “Our tournament at Iowa will be a pre-season final exam for our team as we head into Missouri Valley Conference play.” The Bulldogs kick off their MVC slate on Sept. 18, entertaining Northern Iowa before concluding their 18-match conference schedule against the same Panthers on Nov. 21. The ultimate goal for the Bulldogs is to qualify for the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship Nov. 26-28 in Omaha, Neb., for the first time since the 1998 season. Creighton will serve as host for the six-team State Farm MVC Championship.
True Blue | 7