Bluffton volleyball starts 2005 with new coach and philosophy
By Ben Risinger, sports information director
August 25, 2005
The BlufftonUniversity women's volleyball team is prepared for the new season and ready to turn the heads of their opponents. First-year head coach Steve Yarnell will guide the Beavers and set a new standard to take them back to the glory days of Bluffton volleyball. This season coach Yarnell looks to finish in the top four of the HCAC and reach the second round of the conference tournament.
"I'm very excited with the chances that this year's team has from the standpoint of being overlooked in the conference," Yarnell said. "As a team the goal is to make the top four of the conference and the second round of the tournament. This year will bring a new outlook on Bluffton volleyball; we are going to go in a different direction."
Last season the squad finished with an 11-20 overall record and a 2-5 mark in the Heartland Conference. The team lost in three games to Defiance in the first round of the HCAC tournament to end the year.
Practices as well as the team's philosophy will change in 2005. Yarnell wants to keep
his team running and get them to anticipate what will happen next on the court. He
looks for them know and understand the game inside and out and anticipate the next
"We are going to keep the intensity high and go 110 percent. Our practices will be a lot different than what the team is used to," Yarnell said. "We will teach a lot more repetitions and get the team doing things that will keep them sharp on the court."
The Beavers return one senior to the ranks to help lead the squad. Senior middle hitter Keri Kuhlman (Shelby/Shelby) has been a three year starter for Bluffton and was named All-HCAC her sophomore year. In 2004, Kuhlman led the team in blocks (39 solo, 59 assisted) and kills (325, 3.28 per game). "Keri will be a very solid player for us on the court," Yarnell said. "She has a lot of experience."
Three juniors return to the field as defensive specialist Katie Moore (Bucyrus/Wynford), outside hitter Jamie Shores (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) and setter Brittany Shultz (Hudson, Ind./Prairie Heights) look to battle for starting positions in 2005. Moore ranked third in reception percentage (.876 %) in 2004 as Shores placed third on the team last season with 18 service aces. Shultz ranked second on the team last year with 1,977 total assists. Junior Jean Boen (Wooster/Kidron Central Christian) transfers in from GoshenCollege and will push to see time at either the libero or setter position.
Sophomores outside hitter Kalla Aeschliman (Wauseon/Wauseon), outside hitter Rachel Alvarez (Convoy/Crestview) and middle hitter Mariel Nash (Loudonville/Loudonville) return for the second campaigns with Bluffton. Aeschliman and Alvarez will compete for an outside hitter position with Nash going inside with Kuhlman. "Middle hitter is one of our strongest positions, but not deep enough yet," Yarnell said. All three will be looked upon to step up on the court as they saw limited time on the varsity squad as freshmen.
"I look for Brittany and Katie to have good years," Yarnell said. "There will be a battle on the outside between sophomores Kalla, Rachel and Jamie to see who will get the starting position."
Six new faces will take the court for the Beavers this season and look to give the
team a new solid foundation to build the future with. Kate Barnett (North Bloomfield/Lakeview), Carrie Bowling (Somerville/Preble Shawnee), Kari Day (Castalia/Margaretta), Mandy Eicher (Delta/Pike-Delta-York), Victoria Lawrence (Sandusky/St. Mary Central Catholic) and Chelsea Wyse (Archbold/Archbold) start their first season as collegiate players.
"The 2005 incoming class can provide depth at many positions," Yarnell said. "I look for them to help us become an overall better team."