August 18, 2004|
(EDWARDSVILLE, Ill.) After three straight 20-win seasons Southern Illinois University Edwardsville volleyball coach Todd Gober looks to continue that string to a fourth year and a possible bid to the NCAA tournament.
Gober has a record of 67-30 in his first three seasons at the helm of the Cougars, and he expects this year's team to be just as competitive as last year's 25-7 squad.
"We have several young ladies returning who saw considerable playing time last season," said Gober. The team returns nine players, including six juniors and three sophomores, but no seniors. "We have been looking forward to this point since we brought this group together," he said. "We have a lot of leaders."
Returning are juniors Heather Bonde (Millstadt), who finished sixth in the Great Lakes Valley Conference last season in hitting percentage, and Kindra Westendorf (Effingham), second on the squad with 308 kills.
"They are huge and other teams are going to recognize their talent." Gober said. Junior setter Krystal Majernik (Normal), a first team All-GLVC selection and a second team All-Region pick, led the GLVC with 12.41 assists per game. "She has All-American potential while leading the team to big wins," Gober said.
Another junior, Allison Buss (Towanda) is returning as an outside hitter and a defensive specialist. She led SIUE with 415 digs a season ago. Sophomore Beth DeGreeff (St. Louis, Mo.), and Buss will spend time as the team's libero this season.
The middle of the floor looks to be a key point of emphasis as Tina Talsma (Ontario, Canada), was third on the team with 90 blocks, and Jamie Jones (Flanagan) "will add depth in the middle," Gober said. Junior Melissa Spann (Bethalto) and sophomore Tricia Happe (St. Louis) shore up the opposite hitter spot. "Right side is going to be a very competitive position on our team," Gober said. "We have several people going after one spot."
Newcomers include junior college transfers Jenny Heimann (Germantown) and Shannon Winkeler, (Bartelso). Both were All-Americans at John A. Logan College, and incoming freshman Sadie Zurliene (Aviston) and Tina Helphery (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) will add to a strong nucleus.
SIUE will put all the key parts together for a run at the GLVC Championship opening their season on August 27 at the Comfort Inn-vitational Tournament in Pensacola, Fla.