August 10, 2017
BLUFFTON, Ohio - The Bluffton University Volleyball Team heads into the 2017 season having won the Heartland Conference tournament the past four seasons. The Beavers capped off a 24-9 campaign with their first-ever NCAA Tournament victory when they downed Wisconsin-Oshkosh in five sets last season! Bluffton will work to keep its NCAA tournament string alive by qualifying for a fifth straight time and ninth in program history.
Ready to embark on his 13th season as Bluffton’s head coach, Coach Yarnell is looking forward to the challenge of replacing four of the top hitters in Beaver volleyball history who wrapped up their careers over the past 16 months. All-time kills leader Kendra Parmenter (1,501) and Jenny Brown (1,270) graduated in 2016 while two-time Heartland Conference MVP MacKenzie McFarlin and All-American Lauren Weisgarber led the Beavers to four NCAA tournament appearances before departing campus in May. They are all in the top 20 all-time for career kills with Parmenter, McFarlin and Brown in the top 5.
The 5th annual Sommer Center Spiketacular is back on the opening weekend and it will once again feature heavyweights from the OAC, NCAC, the CCIW and the MIAA. After a short trip to Tiffin for the Heidelberg Invitational, Bluffton is back in the Sommer Center for the first-ever Bluffton University Fall Classic. The HCAC/OAC Challenge moves to Baldwin Wallace this season and it leads into Heartland Conference play which tips off the final weekend of September.
Non-conference tune-ups against Wittenberg, Ohio Northern, and Heidelberg dot the schedule and prepare the Beavers for HCAC play this season. Coach Yarnell stated, “The team had what I felt like was a quality spring season and we were able to compete well in our spring scrimmage with our smaller squad. I am excited to see the returning group on the court with the addition of the incoming class and what lineups we are able to put together to give our opponents fits. As always we have a challenging slate put before us that will help us peak toward the end of the season.”
Senior Sydney Mohler (Lima/Central Catholic) was named the Heartland Conference Defensive Player of the Year in 2016. Mohler ignited Bluffton's fast-paced offense with an outstanding .934 serve receive percentage. Her 6.90 digs per set in conference contests topped the HCAC, while her 5.34 digs per ranked third all-time for the Beavers. She is currently fifth all-time at 4.43 digs per set and her 1542 career digs are ninth on the all-time list at Bluffton. The Beavers have compiled a sterling 23-4 mark in HCAC matches since Mohler came on the scene as a freshman starter at libero.
Becca Tourney (Columbia City, Ind.) showed her versatility with 235 digs, 121 kills, 46 blocks and 34 aces as a junior. Fellow seniors Mary Jo Bash (Carey) and Lauren Miller (Dayton/Miamisburg) give the Beavers experienced depth in the back court as well as at the service line.
A group of eight returning sophomores includes two-time All-Heartland Conference performer Erin Weisgarber (Bolivar/Tuscarawas Valley). Picking right up where she left off last season when Erin Weisgarber was named the HCAC Freshman of the Year, the engine for Bluffton's quick-hitting offense was named First Team All-Heartland Conference in 2016. She doled out 11.93 assists per game in conference matches, nearly 1.5 assists more than her closest competitor in the HCAC. Weisgarber added offensive firepower as a hitter to her repertoire this season, pounding 144 kills (1.33 kills per set) and hitting .319 in conference contests, fourth-best in the HCAC.
Jessie Gibson (Warsaw/River View) was second for the Beavers with 53 blocks in the middle. She added 82 kills and will be counted on for even more offense this season following the graduation of Lauren Weisgarber and MacKenzie McFarlin. Fellow junior Abby Rohrbach (New Knoxville) picked up 256 digs and ripped 31 service aces in 2016. Bethany Martini (Pickerington) gives the Beavers a hammer on the outside after pounding 288 kills as a sophomore.
The Beavers will tackle another brutal schedule this year, but that has been the formula for success as the Beavers have won four straight HCAC Tournament titles and five in the past eight seasons! With the foundation firmly in place, Coach Yarnell is excited to mold another top-notch recruiting class into a championship volleyball team. The 2017 season kicks off at the Sommer Spiketacular on September 1 with Heartland Conference action opening on Saturday, Sept. 30 when the women travel to Hanover College. Come out and support the Beavers as they start their drive for an HCAC five-peat!