With the season only a week away, the Slippery Rock University volleyball team is ready to improve upon last season.
In a preseason poll, the ladies were picked to finish eighth in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Western Division.
The Rock finished the 2013 season with a record of 10-25. However, the team is not thinking about what happened last season.
“Last season’s record doesn’t change anything,” head coach Laurie Lokash said. “Last year, we lost a number of five set matches in the beginning, and that tends to have a negative effect on a team. Hopefully we get off to a faster start this year.”
This year there is no assistant coach. The position was eliminated by the administration, so Lokash is taking full control.
Lokash is entering her 31st season, and while the team has had to replace players from last year, they have retained 12 players.
The Green and White will be led by seniors Michelle Hren and Janna Reilly and junior Kristy Lake.
Hren played in 34 matches and had a total of 141 blocks. This was the second highest single season mark in both program and PSAC history.
Lake, who played in 34 matches last season, was ranked second on the team with 306 kills and tallied 195 digs, 34 blocks, and nine service aces.
Reilly also played in 34 matches, and led the team with 705 assists, and had 316 digs, 18 service aces, and 17 double-doubles. Reilly was fourth on the team for digs, and is fourth all-time in assists for SRU.
Junior Kristen Smith and sophomores Cassidy Schoof, Leah Jones and Jaden Zimmer are among those listed above who bring even more experience from last season.
Smith appeared in a total of 17 matches and made six starts last fall. She had 45 kills and 14 assists. She was also fourth on the team with 36 blocks. Schoof started in two matches while playing as a freshman last season. She had a career high of nine kills and five assists while playing against Point Park University on Sept. 24. Jones started three matches last season and had 29 kills and 13 digs. Zimmer started seven matches while ranking third on the team with 45 blocks and 85 kills.
Lokash believes that the new players on the team will bring new and different skills that previous freshmen did not possess.
“The freshman this year will bring a higher volleyball IQ to the team than the freshmen of the past,” Lokash said. “Overall, they have had good training and are more ready to step in and play than some of those in previous years.”
The Rock opens their season against Pfeiffer University on Sept. 5 in Misenheimer, North Carolina for the Pfeiffer College Tournament.