BC aims for continued climb in HCACAugust 22, 2001
The 2000 season was proof that the Bluffton College volleyball program had risen back to contention in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, and third year head coach Sara Wakefield has every intention of keeping it that way.
|Seven letterwinners, including four seniors, return this season to build on last year's 19-16 overall record and 3-3 mark in the HCAC. Last season marked a five-win improvement over their 1999 record of 14-20 during Wakefield's first season. BC displayed continued improvement and aim to keep it going.||
Seniors Jamie Frisk, Mandy Pequignot, Lisa Rathburn and Erica Jellison.
"It will be important for us to come out strong early in the season, and early in each game," said Wakefield. "We have the potential to have a great season record. A lot will depend on how we perform in our extremely busy September schedule."
Wakefield's four seniors, led by two-time All-HCAC outside hitter Mandy Pequignot, will provide the leadership for a continued rise in league standings. Pequignot, setter Erica Jellison and defensive specialists Jamie Frisk and Lisa Rathburn are all in their fourth year of varsity action.
"This year's strength will be experience from our four seniors," said Wakefield. "They cover a wide range of positions and will be able to provide leadership both on and off the court. I expect us to again be the scrappy defensive team that we've been in the past."
A first team All-HCAC selection as a sophomore and junior, Pequignot racked up 423 kills last season, which ranked second in the league. Her .311 hitting percentage last year ranked third in the league and is Bluffton's third best single season hitting percentage of all-time. In the BC career record book, Pequignot's .278 career hitting percentage is already a record and she ranks fourth in kills per game (2.6).
With 1,012 assists last year, Jellison became the fourth player in BC history to collect over 1,000 assists in a single season. She also led the team with 50 service aces and added 474 digs, which was third on the team. Frisk (267 digs, 41 aces) and Rathburn (325 digs, 28 aces) will both be counted on for the defense that Coach Wakefield is looking for.
Three starters graduated from last year's team and leave big shoes to fill. Gone are middle hitter Betsy Hook and outside hitters Alison Harrer and Beth Weidus. Hook set a BC record with 482 career blocks, while Harrer joined the 1,000 career dig club and Weidus continually was a team leader in digs and aces.
"Last year's seniors left some big spots to fill, but we have younger players who have worked extremely hard in the off-season to be ready to step in this fall," said Wakefield. "We will need to capitalize on the experience and skill of our seniors, especially on offense, which will be the key to overcoming the loss. This group of players has a strong sense of the importance of working as a team, which will also be an asset throughout the season."
Three other letterwinners return for Bluffton, including junior outside hitter Janelle Beck (85 kills, 44 digs), sophomore middle hitter Jenae Meck (82 kills, 39 blocks) and sophomore defensive specialist Erin Cooper (25 kills, 107 digs). In addition, sophomores Becky Boyd and Jen Hall also return after gaining experience with the junior varsity squad last season.
Coach Wakefield's recruiting class this season numbers 12 players. Included are Megan Beach (Findlay/Arlington), Brittani Dawson (Marion/Ridgedale), Kelly Hufford (Lordstown), Kelly Kettinger (Oregon/Clay), Erin Kreim (New Washington/Buckeye Central), Jenny Lehman (Lima/Perry), Nicole Piernak (Madison Heights, Mich./Bishop Foley), Ann Ringholz (Bellevue), Jill Rothe (Wapakoneta/St. Mary's), Mandy Teegarden (Defiance/Ayersville), Courtney Tisher (Rittman) and Meghan Zorn (Jackson Center).