Beavers ready to build on 2013 tourney run
August 11, 2014
By: Brittany Roth, sports information assistant
The Beavers are excited to be back in the gym for another season after an exciting ending in 2013. With a 4-5 record in the HCAC, Bluffton entered the conference tournament as the 6th seed with an overall record of 13-18. The young players put it together for the next several matches and made history as the first six seed to come out of the tournament as champions. The victory clinched the automatic qualification bid to the NCAA tournament. The Beavers bowed out to nationally-ranked Wittenberg in the first round, ending their season with an overall record of 16-19. When reflecting on last year and looking at the upcoming season, Coach Yarnell said, “We were able to play some quality opponents and grow as a team in 2013. With a large portion of the team returning, we are optimistic and excited about the task and gauntlet that awaits us in the coming months.”
After such an exciting end to the 2013 season, the Beavers were ready to work hard during the off-season. Lifting and working on leadership and team chemistry were mixed in with open gyms following the season. Bluffton traveled to Owens Community College to conclude their spring campaign, competing in a tournament there.
Now in his 10th year at Bluffton University, Coach Yarnell is looking forward to opening up with a tournament at home again this year. “The Sommer Center Spiketacular will be an exciting tournament to begin the season. We want to play solid competition and prepare for the Heartland Conference which opens in late September.”
After graduating two captains, Lindsay Krohn and Hailey Phillips, who were the lone seniors in 2013, there will be several changes to the team dynamic this upcoming season. Senior ASHLEY LITWILLER (Hopedale, IL/Olympia) and junior SARA ROTH (Findlay/Van Buren) were named captains following the 2013 Spring season. Coach Yarnell stated, “I think Ashley and Sara’s personalities and leadership styles will complement each other going forward to provide guidance and leadership for this team.” With 10 players returning, Bluffton welcomes eight incoming athletes to complete a roster of 18 players.
Hitting for the Beavers in the middle will be returning HCAC First Team junior JENNY BROWN (St. Marys/Memorial) and returning sophomore LAUREN WEISGARBER (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley). HCAC First Team junior KENDRA PARMENTER (Grove City) will be a returning force on the outside along with seniors EMILY BROUGHTON (Lewisburg/Tri-County North) and Ashley Litwiller, and sophomores MACKENZIE MCFARLIN (Ashland), KAYLEIGH CAITO (Baltimore/Liberty Union), and Owens transfer BAILEY DANGLER (Kalida). Incoming freshmen LYNDSI WHITMORE (Wapakoneta), BECCA TOURNEY (Columbia City, Ind.), and MARY JO BASH (Carey) will be training as hitters for the Beavers as well.
After graduating two senior defenders, the Bluffton defense will be seeing the most changes this year. Returning defensive specialists for the Beavers are junior SARAH PRIDEMORE (Springfield/Greenon) and sophomore SHELBI KAUFFMAN (Bellefontaine). Incoming back row specialists are freshmen SYNDEY MOHLER (Lima/Central Catholic), ERIN HELMS (Arlington) and LAUREN MILLER (Dayton/Miamisburg).
Continuing to direct the offense for the Beavers will be junior setter Sara Roth. Incoming freshmen ALEXA McCOURT (Toledo/Cardinal Stritch) and Sydney Mohler along with sophomore transfer Bailey Dangler will also be training as a setter for Bluffton.
As a reward for proving themselves at the end of the 2013 season, Coach Yarnell put together another demanding schedule for the Beavers this year. After being on the road the majority of the 2013 season, this year Bluffton will open up with another home tournament and will also host the HCAC/OAC Challenge in addition to their seven other home matches. The recently announced HCAC Preseason Poll saw Bluffton come in second, just two points behind 2013 regular season champion Defiance College with both schools collecting four first place votes from the coaches. Coach Yarnell commented, “While it is nice to be recognized as a potential contender within the gauntlet of the HCAC, the preseason poll is based upon your success and potential from the previous year and on paper. Everything still happens on the court and we need to work hard to improve every day and continue to foster a competitive training environment to develop our players to be the best they can be.”