August 6, 2015
The Bluffton University volleyball team is embarking on a new season after a very exciting 2014 campaign. The Beavers put together a 23-12 record overall with a 7-2 mark in the HCAC. For the second consecutive year, Bluffton won the HCAC Tournament in Defiance and the automatic qualification bid to the NCAA tournament. This was the Beavers’ sixth appearance in the NCAA tournament with three of those six coming in the last six years. Bluffton's tournament success and heralded returners have the Beavers at the top of the HCAC pre-season Coaches Poll for 2015.
The 2014 run ended in round one of the NCAA Tournament with a three-set loss to the #7 team in the nation and Division III power Washington University (Mo.). When reflecting back on last season and looking forward to the upcoming season, Coach Yarnell said, “We were able to take the momentum we garnered at the end of the 2013 season and transfer it over to 2014. The motto of last year’s team was love the process and that is something we will need to do this year against a heavy slate of quality competition.”
Entering his 11th year at Bluffton University, the 2014 HCAC Coach of the Year is looking forward to an exciting year. The Beavers open with a home match against Ohio Wesleyan on September 1 and the third annual Sommer Center Spiketacular on September 4-5. Coach Yarnell commented, “It will be nice to open the first week of play at home in an environment we are comfortable with.”
The team will have a four-person leadership group with seniors Jenny Brown (St. Marys/Memorial) and Kendra Parmenter (Grove City) and juniors Lauren Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley) and Mackenzie McFarlin (Ashland) who were selected for their roles after the spring season. “These four individuals collectively give us experience and leadership that will help the younger players in the classroom, weight room, on the court, and in everyday life. With 10 players returning, Bluffton welcomes nine incoming freshman to complete the roster of 19 payers.
With a wealth of talent returning, the addition of a solid recruiting class and a challenging schedule will prepare the Beavers for another deep November tournament run. Hitting for the Beavers in the middle will be three-time HCAC First Team selection Jenny Brown and junior Lauren Weisgarber. Adding depth at the middle position will be first-year players Becca Starn (Findlay/St. Wendelin) and Angela Cox (Hamersville/Eastern).
HCAC first teamer Kendra Parmenter will be a returning force on the outside along with the 2014 HCAC MVP Mackenzie McFarlin and sophomore attacker Becca Tourney (Columbia City, Ind.). Incoming freshmen Erin Herre (Norwood), Alyssa Hornback (Fishers/Heritage Christian, Ind.), Bethany Martini (Pickerington/North) and Amanda Outland (Toledo/Start) will be training as pin hitters for the Beavers.
Returning defensive specialists for the Beavers are sophomores Sydney Mohler (Lima Central Catholic), Erin Helms (Arlington), Lauren Miller (Dayton/ Miamisburg) and Mary Jo Bash (Carey). Incoming freshman Abby Rohrbach (New Knoxville) will train as a defensive specialist.
The Beavers will look different at the quarterback position as three players will compete for time at setter. Sophomore Alexa McCourt (Toledo/Cardinal Stritch) is joined by newcomers Jessie Gibson (Warsaw/River View) and Erin Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley).
After proving themselves once again, Coach Yarnell put together another demanding schedule for the Beavers this year. The success of 2014 along with the talented corps of returning hitters at Coach Yarnell’s disposal propelled Bluffton to the top spot in the HCAC Coaches Poll. With expectations cranked up, the Beavers will open up with a home match against Ohio Wesleyan followed by the Sommer Center Spiketacular. Everything is geared toward the Heartland Conference portion of the schedule which gets underway on Saturday, Sept. 26 with the long trip to Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, Ind. Rival Defiance makes the short jaunt to Bluffton on Wednesday, Oct. 7 for a re-match of the 2014 HCAC championship tilt.