Bluffton volleyball welcomes 11 new faces for 2012
August 14, 2012
By: Meghan Mohr, sports information assistant
HCAC pre-season Coaches Poll
The Bluffton Volleyball Team opens its 2012 season Friday, August 31, at the Marietta
College Tournament against the Waynesburg Yellow Jackets. Coach Yarnell will be entering
his 8th season as Bluffton's head coach. In 2011 the Beavers finished 22-11 and 7-2
HCAC in the HCAC which created a five-way tie for 1st place in the HCAC with Rose
Hulman, Mount St. Joseph, Transylvania and Hanover. They followed that with a runner-up
finish in the HCAC tournament. It marked the fourth consecutive season that the squad
has reached the 20-victory plateau. Coach Yarnell stated, "Last year the race to the
top of the HCAC was as tight as it has ever been. The strength of volleyball in the
conference has really elevated over the past few years and continues to improve. The
2011 senior class within the HCAC was very talented and each school will be looking
for new faces and names to fill the shoes of impact players across the board."
In 2012 the Beavers welcome back six players who saw action in 28 or more matches
last season, led by All-HCAC honorable mention Heather Schierer (Crescent Springs, Ky./St. Henry) a senior who finished the season with 582 digs,
along with junior setter Kyleigh Whitsel (Sheffield Lake/ Brookside), who tallied 968 assists, and junior middle Bethany Behnfeldt (Napoleon) who finished with 116 kills. The Beavers bid farewell to five seniors
last season, Courtney Zimmerman, Jenna Eshleman, Nicole Wood, Meghan Dodson and Lauren
Morrow. With the graduation of that quintet and the offensive talent from Zimmerman,
Eshleman, and Wood, the Beavers are looking to several of the newcomers for some additional
offensive power. Yarnell has once again added a deep recruiting class of 11 players
who will compete for playing time and provide depth at their respective positions.
"I think we did a really good job of recruiting a solid class. This freshman class
may be one of the stronger that we have had over the past seven years."
Returning setter Kyleigh Whitsel finished her first season as a Beaver with 968 assists.
Freshman Mackenzie Lauber, a southpaw All-State setter out of Madison Comprehensive
High School, made three trips to the Division III Final Four during her high school
career. Danica Hicks who was another All-State selection from Convoy-Crestview High School had a dual
role for the Knights as a setter and hitter. "We will have more competition at the
setting position than we have had in a while with three young women who each bring
something different to the table," stated Coach Yarnell.
Bethany Behnfeldt saw action in all 33 matches last season, pounding 116 kills and
47 blocks. Senior Brooke Distel (Carey) added 93 kills and 38 blocks on the season while primarily playing as an
opposite hitter. Along with the returners, the Beavers added newcomers Jenny Brown (St. Marys/Memorial), Lauren Hoffman (Dunkirk/Hardin Northern) and Kristen Beck (Paulding) to the mix which markedly improved depth at a difficult position to play.
After losing All-HCAC performers Nicole Wood and Jenna Eshleman to graduation, the
outside hitter positions are up for grabs. Returners Hailey Phillips (Malinta/Patrick Henry), Emily Broughton (Lewisburg/Tri-County North) and Kristyn Hovest (Pandora-Gilboa) are accompanied by junior transfer Dana Otto of Miller City, freshmen Brooke Ruffer (Stryker), Kendra Parmenter (Grove City) and Sara Watson (Brownstone, Mich./Woodhaven). Between the returners and newcomers there is a wealth
of talent that will lead to healthy competition for the two open starting slots.
Right Side Hitters
Senior Brooke Distel, along with sophomores Kristyn Hovest and Ashley Litwiller (Hopedale, Ill./Olympia) and newcomer Kristen Beck will be competing for time on
the right side this year. Hovest saw action in 15 matches in 2011 while Litwiller
played in 12 matches. Hicks will also compete for time on the right or outside hitter
The defense will be led by senior Heather Schierer who was a 2011 HCAC honorable mention
selection with 582 digs and 37 aces. Other defensive specialists expected to contribute
are juniors Lindsay Krohn (Marysville, Ind./New Washington), who picked up 159 digs
and served 15 aces, and Hailey Phillips who added 120 digs and 20 aces last year.
Sophomores Melissa Wichie (Brunswick) and Calista Dowdy (Van Wert/Lincolnview) were able to gain experience last year at the junior varsity
level. Freshman newcomers Sarah Pridemore (Springfield/Greenon) and Fallon Collins (Miamisburg) will provide additional depth at DS for the 2012 season.
Bluffton's home opener is Wednesday, September 5, at 7 p.m. versus local rival Ohio
Northern University in Founders Hall. Coach Yarnell is looking forward to a competitive
final season in Founders and has hopes for another 20-plus win performance, "I am
cautiously optimistic that this 2012 team could be very good and probably surprise
some teams based on our youth."