Rock volleyball head coach Laurie Lokash will have the benefit of having 12 returning players on her squad in 2014, and looks to improve her team after finishing the 2014 season with a 17-14 overall record.
Despite having an advantage in the overall win-loss record last season, the team finished below .500 within the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) with a 10-12 record, and has been projected to tie for last place in the PSAC-West division with Indiana University (IUP). After losing most of the starters from the previous season, Rock head coach Laurie Lokash understands that her team might be in a rebuilding year.
“I think we lost a lot of people and most of our starters from last year,” Lokash said. “We are gonna be a different team because now people can’t pull up film from last year and expect the same Slippery Rock, because we will have different kids out there.”
Senior Kristen Smith will return for her final season at SRU as the lone senior on the team’s roster, meaning Lokash will take advantage of developing the younger talent for the teams future success.
Other top returning players for SRU include junior Anna Mease, junior Cassidy Schoof, junior Jaden Zimmer, sophomore Kristen C. Smith, sophomore Leah Jones and sophomore Haley Defibaugh.
Zimmer started in 24 matches for the Rock last season, appearing in 102 sets. Zimmer was second on the team with 67 total blocks, while also recording 98 kills, 40 digs, and 10 assists. Kristen C. Smith appeared in 30 games and 100 sets last season, ranking fourth on the team with 246 digs, and also adding 15 service aces.
“When you’re a young team, you’re constantly trying to get better and evolve as a team,” Lokash said. “Hopefully as the season goes on we are going to continue improving.
After seeing the kids play more in practice, more ideas to mind. We have kids who we think can play in multiple different positions and be effective in those positions.”
The Rock welcomes two sophomore transfers this season, Courtney Oberlander from Seton Hill and Brooke Bostwick from Roanoke College. Oberlander appeared in 38 matches for the Griffins her freshman year, ranking second on the team in 322 digs. Oberlander also had 24 aces, 36 assists, three kills and two blocks in 2014.
“We recruited Courtney to try and come to Slippery Rock as a high schooler,” Lokash said. “Sometimes players have different reasons for going to different schools. I think she went to Seton Hill and had a very good experience with them, because they have a very good program. Luckily, they believe in giving kids the opportunity to play wherever they want to play, and they released her. She played in a strong program with a lot of playing time, and she has valuable sophomore experience.”
Bostwick was named the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Rookie of the Year in 2014, as well as being named to second team All-ODAC honors. Bostwick led Roanoke with team-highs of 74 blocks and 253 kills. Bostwick also served 29 aces and posted a .208 attacking percentage in 2014.
The team begins its season in Misenheimer, North Carolina against the University of Virginia-Wise. The team’s first home match is not scheduled until Oct. 2 against IUP.