2008 Volleyball Preview
Beavers return eight and look to challenge in balanced HCAC
By: Thea Rosengarten, sports information assistant
July 22, 2008
As the Bluffton University volleyball team prepares for the 2008 season, fourth year head coach Steve Yarnell is again looking for consistency, working to bring his young team up to speed. The 2007 squad finished 11-20 overall, going 2-6 in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The team had a significant spring season, competing incredibly well against nationally recognized Division II and Division III programs. Following the loss of three key players: Rachel Alvarez, Kate Barnett, and Chelsea Wyse, the Beavers will depend greatly on the 14 incoming freshman to solidify a lineup that includes eight returners.
|The Beavers will return to the court under the leadership of junior captain Brittany Roth (Findlay/Findlay), the two-year starting libero, and sophomore captain Shauna Rowland (Bucyrus/Wynford), who was the starting setter a year ago. Also returning to the court are the top two offensive weapons for the Beavers, Kayla Pickering (Jamestown/Greenview) and Michele Rosen (Harrison/Harrison). Pickering smashed a Bluffton freshmen record 422 kills in 2007 and her 3.73 kills per game placed her third in the Heartland Conference. Rosen knocked down 255 kills for the Beavers.|
|Having such a young team, Coach Yarnell is looking for the newcomers to step in and contribute right away. With the addition of the 14 freshman, there will be intense competition for playing time. The large incoming class drastically improves team depth, which is just what the Beavers need this season. "Our off-season training program and improved depth will put us in a position to better compete in a Heartland Conference that looks more balanced than ever," stated Coach Yarnell. Injuries kept the Beavers from consistently fielding their top rotations a year ago, but the added experience gained by this season's sophomores will prove invaluable when practice resumes for the 2008 campaign.|
Excited about the season and all the opportunities that it brings, the team is working to finish in the top half of conference which would assure Bluffton of a berth in the HCAC tournament this year. "We are going to need guidance and leadership from the returning players in fostering growth with our freshmen. The pieces of the puzzle are now here and in place and we must find a way to construct the puzzle. I believe this will be an exciting year in Beaver volleyball," concluded Coach Yarnell.