Getting Back to the Winning Ways

Siloam Springs, Ark. (August 21, 2008) — After completing the 2007 campaign with a 14-20 record, the 2008 JBU volleyball squad is setting their sights on reclaiming the conference championship they won in 2006. Although 2007 was the team’s first sub-500 season in nearly ten years, head coach Robyn Daugherty now has a roster full of experience ready to take her team back to the top of the Sooner Athletic Conference.

With no seniors on last year’s roster, everyone has another year of experience under their belts. And with the combination of incoming freshman, things are looking bright for the ladies.

“We didn’t lose anybody and we added some height and some depth,” said Daugherty. “So I feel like with this team, we’ve added a higher competition level in practice which is forcing everyone to work a little harder which hopefully will pay off come game time.”

Leading the pack of returning players will be all-region players, right side hitter Laurae Marty, and middle hitter Christi Newton.

Marty led the team with 2.8 kills per game, while Newton averaged 1.2 blocks per game in 2007.

“Laurae is putting the ball down extremely well. She’s showing a lot of power and worked really hard this summer to be a key returner, and Christi is really playing well and doing a lot of good things in preseason,” said Daugherty.

New to the roster are 5-11 freshman Bailey Barton of Louisburg, Kan., 6-0 freshman Kassie Keeter of Webb City, Mo., 6-0 freshman Tara Fredeen of Bentonville, and 5-5 freshman Sarah Jordan of Siloam Springs.

“All four of the girls are doing extremely well in practice,” said Daugherty. “They are right there competing with juniors and seniors for spots, and we’ll be able to count on a few of them to help us right away.”

Also new in 2008 is added responsibility for assistant coach Amber Coats. After working with the team for the past two seasons, she has been promoted to associate head coach status and will take over running the offense.

“She’ll be a lot more apart of practice including game preparation, match evaluation, making subs during the middle of a match, and just more of a dual head coach in some respects,” said Daugherty. “But her primary role will be director of the offense.”

With new NAIA tournament qualification rules also in effect for 2008, teams also will no longer compete in a region tournament but must win the conference championship to have a chance at receiving a berth to the national tournament.

A complete list of what to look for by position is included below:

Setters

Junior Britney Kerns and sophomore Alyssa Hanson will compete for head setter duties, but Daugherty suspects she’ll use a combination of both players throughout the year.

Middle Hitter

Backing up Christi Newton is Amber Wilson, who was second in kills per game with 2.6. Also pushing for that position will be newcomers Barton and Fredeen.

Outside Hitter

5-9 sophomore Kirsten Lee tops the list in this category after returning in top form after off season foot surgery. Backing her up is 5-7 senior Aubrey Junker who will split roles as a defensive specialist. Keeter has also stepped in to be the third option at this position.

“Kirsten is looking really good right now and although we’d like Aubrey to move to the back row because of height restrictions, she’s doing really well right now,” added Daugherty. “But to have Keeter as a six-foot outside is a tremendous help.”

Right Side

Marty leads the pack at this position, but look for 5-10 junior Suzie Schultz and Fredeen competing for time here.

Defensive Specialist/Libero

Junior libero Shannon Proctor will continue with libero duties this year. In 2007 she led the team with 4.3 digs per game followed by Junker with 4.1.

However, look for senior Emily Goodlin and Jordan to push for time on the back row.

“The good thing is that we have four solid players at this position,” said Daugherty. “So they’ll all see court time keeping the ball in play.”

Overall, Daugherty feels she has all the pieces to the puzzle to help get JBU back over 500 and to the top of the SAC.

“We feel like we are on track and we have a few early tournaments in the schedule to get us ready for the SAC. So hopefully that’ll help get us ready to compete with anybody in the conference.”