August 12, 2016
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University volleyball team is set to begin its 2016 season under Head Coach Steve Yarnell. The Beavers went 19-13 and 8-1 in the HCAC en route to a third straight HCAC Tournament championship. Bluffton will work to keep their NCAA tournament run alive by qualifying for a four consecutive appearance as well as the eighth time in program history. Bluffton’s run of post-season success and returning All-HCAC performers has the Beavers second in the HCAC preseason poll.
Entering his 12th season as Bluffton’s head coach, Yarnell is looking forward to another exciting year. The Bluffton volleyball team opens the 2016 season at the Elmhurst tournament vs. Benedictine on Friday, Sept. 2. The 4th annual Sommer Center Spiketacular moves to the second weekend and it will once again feature heavyweights from the OAC, NCAC and the PAC. The third weekend the team will travel to the College of Wooster for a tournament before finishing the tournament weekend slate at the HCAC/OAC Challenge, hosted this year by Hanover College.
Non-conference matchups against Ohio Wesleyan, Ohio Northern, and Denison will strengthen the schedule and prepare the Beavers for HCAC play. Coach Yarnell stated, “We have gotten to a point in our program that success is expected. All of our returners have competed in the NCAA Regional at the end of every season. It is my hope that the tradition has been built back up to where it was in the 90’s. We lost two outstanding players in All-American Jenny Brown and All-HCAC honoree and school record holder in kills, Kendra Parmenter. I believe we have turned the corner that the gaps can be filled by those in waiting and the culture will carry over from year to year.”
Returning to the court this season are standout senior captains MacKenzie McFarlin (Ashland) and Lauren Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley) who already have three Heartland Conference tournament championships on their resume! McFarlin is a former HCAC regular-season Most Valuable Player and she followed that up with an HCAC Tournament MVP honor following the 2014 championship.
Sydney Mohler (Lima/Central Catholic) joins McFarlin and Weisgarber as a co-captain and headlines a junior class that includes four hard-working returners. Mohler has been the starting libero since she walked on campus, solidifying serve receive and defense as well as being a menace to opponents from the service line. Becca Tourney (Columbia City, Ind.) was an integral component to Bluffton’s success in 2014 and 2015, from a defensive and serving specialist, while Mary Jo Bash (Carey) and Lauren Miller (Dayton/Miamisburg) give the Beavers experienced depth in the back court.
A group of seven returning sophomores includes 2015 Heartland Conference Freshman of the Year Erin Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley). The All-Heartland Conference setter led the HCAC with 1,216 assists (10.39 APS). Jessie Gibson (Warsaw/River View) showed her versatility, moving into the starting lineup as a hitter after coming to Bluffton following an accomplished high school career as a setter. Fellow sophomore Abby Rohrbach (New Knoxville) is back after a freshman campaign in which she was a starting defensive specialist.
Coach Yarnell has put together another daunting schedule for the Beavers this year, but that has been the formula for success as the Beavers have won four HCAC Tournament titles in the past seven seasons! With the foundation firmly in place, he is excited to mold another top-notch recruiting class into a championship volleyball team. Two transfers and nine incoming freshman complete the roster for the fall season. “We have another quality recruiting class the will give us depth at various positions” commented Yarnell. The 2016 season kicks off in Illinois on September 2 at the Elmhurst Invitational with Heartland Conference action opening on Wednesday, Sept. 28 when the women travel to Earlham College. Come out and support the Beavers as they start their drive for an HCAC four-peat!