Three NCAA Div. III national titles
Cedar Rapids-The Central College volleyball team was tabbed sixth in the Iowa Conference preseason poll, as voted by the league coaches. The Dutch finished the 2012 regular season with a 9-20 overall record, but did qualify for the Iowa Conference tournament with a sixth-place finish. The season ended with a first-round loss at Loras. The Dutch return two 300-plus-assist setters and three starters from the 2012 squad.
Preview by Josh Schroeder, Iowa Conference director of information:
Wartburg College, which captured its second Iowa Conference title with a perfect 7-0 league mark, is the pick of the conference coaches to win the 2013 Iowa Conference volleyball title. The Knights received six of seven available first-place votes (coaches cannot vote for their own teams) for 55 points.
2011 champion Coe College received the two remaining first place votes and was not ranked lower than third on any ballot to take second in this year’s poll with 50 points.
The University of Dubuque sits third with 38 points, while Loras College and Luther College each registered 36 points to tie for fourth. The complete 2013 IIAC Volleyball Coaches’ Poll follows.
Rank School (1st place votes) Points 2012 Record
1 Wartburg (6) 55 32-6, 7-0 IIAC
2 Coe (2) 50 20-13, 6-1 IIAC
3 Dubuque 38 15-20, 4-3 IIAC
T4 Loras 36 17-18, 5-2 IIAC
T4 Luther 36 15-17, 3-4 IIAC
6 Central 26 9-20, 2-5 IIAC
7 Simpson 22 12-22, 1-6 IIAC
8 Buena Vista 17 6-26, 0-7 IIAC
New Coaches: Jenna Ness is the new coach at Loras, replacing Teresa Kehe. Ness, a 2011 graduate of Luther, comes to Loras after coaching stops at Saint Mary’s (Minn.), St. Ambrose and her alma mater, Luther. This is her first collegiate head coaching position. Additionally, Doug Frazell has joined Jennifer Walker as a co-head coach at Wartburg. Frazell joined the Knights' coaching staff in April 2010 and was named Associate Head Coach in February 2012. Prior to Wartburg, Frazell spent seven years as the head coach at West Des Moines Valley High School, leading the Tigers to an average of 30 wins per season, three state tournament berths, and two Central Iowa Metropolitan League championships.
2013 Schedule: The 2013 schedule opens Friday, August 30 with all eight schools in tournament action. Buena Vista and Coe open up at the Elmhurst Invitational, Central is at the Colorado College Invitational, Dubuque is at the Beloit (Wis.) Buc Blast, Loras is at the Augustana (Ill.) Invitational, Luther is at the Saint Mary’s (Minn.) Sugar Loaf Classic, Simpson is at the NYU Invitational, and Wartburg opens at the Puget Sound (Wash.) Premier. The 2013 Iowa Conference schedule opens Tuesday, September 17, with Wartburg hosting Central. The rest of the Conference gets underway the following day with three matches – Coe hosting Luther, Buena Vista at Simpson and Loras venturing across town to face rival Dubuque.
Preseason Poll: After a 32-6 season last year, Wartburg opens the season ranked 15th in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Preseason Poll.
Conference Tournament: The top six teams following the regular season round-robin schedule qualify for the 2013 Iowa Conference Tournament with an automatic berth in the NCAA Tournament on the line. The IIAC Tournament is November 5, 7 and 9, with each match hosted by the higher seed.
Team-By-Team Preview: A brief preview for each Iowa Conference team follows.
Buena Vista Beavers
2012 record: 6-26 overall, 0-7 (eighth)
Starters returning/lost: 4/2
Letterwinners returning/lost: 5/5
Buena Vista returns four starters and five letter winners from last year's 6-26 team that finished eighth in the Conference with an 0-7 record. The Beavers will be led by junior middle blocker/outside hitter Chelsea Clayton. Clayton led the team with 88 blocks (21 solo) and ranked second on the team with 288 kills and 30 service aces. She ranked fourth in the conference in blocks and fifth in kills.
Senior middle blocker Jena Peters ranked second on the team with 70 blocks (eight solo) and third in kills with 139. Peters ranked seventh in the IIAC in blocks. Junior libero/defensive specialist Jordan Henningsen led the team a year ago with 291 digs while also contributing 18 service aces and 11 assists.
Buena Vista head coach Lori Slight says, "We are very excited to see what the new year brings. We have a lot of new faces and hopefully an entirely new look to our team."
2012 record: 9-20 overall, 2-5 IIAC (sixth)
Starters returning/lost: 3 + libero/3
Letterwinners returning/lost: 9/8
Central returns four starters including the libero and nine letter winners from last season's 9-20 team that finished sixth in the IIAC with a 2-5 record.
Junior middle hitter Hannah Welter ranked fourth on the team with 121 kills while posting a team-high 62 blocks (13 solo) and 25 digs. She ranked sixth in the conference in blocks. Sophomore libero Tori Zempel, an all-Iowa Conference selection, led the Dutch with 458 digs. She also posted 14 service aces and 10 assists. Zempel ranked second in the league in digs.
A pair of junior setters will be charged with directing traffic for the Dutch in 2013. Claire Stewart played in 96 sets least season, accumulating a team-high 620 sets while ranking second on the team with 26 service aces and third in digs with 159. Stewart ranked eighth in the IIAC in assists. Jill Schildroth was limited to 62 sets played, posting 301 assists, 13 service aces and 83 digs.
Central head coach Kent Clayberg says, "The conference race will be an interesting battle. We lost some dynamic players to graduation throughout the conference. Each team is going to look a little different. I believe the conference is going to take some steps toward national prominence this fall. We expect to be right in the thick of the battle for top billing. We have some great young kids that gained some experience last fall. We're looking forward to a great year."
2012 record: 20-13 overall, 6-1 IIAC (second)
Starters returning/lost: 6/3
Letterwinners returning/lost: 6/6
Coe returns six starters including the libero and six letter winners from last season's 20-13 team that finished second in the Conference with a 6-1 record. Three all-Iowa Conference players return to Coe's lineup led by two-time selection Rachel Schaefer. Schaefer led the Kohawks with 377 kills and 44 service aces and ranked third in blocks (nine solo). She also added 125 digs and five assists. Schaefer led the Iowa Conference in service aces and ranked third in kills (3.59 per set) and seventh in hitting percentage (.253).
Also receiving all-conference honors last year were junior middle hitter Rachel Bosworth and junior libero Alissa Wittenburg. Bosworth ranked second on the team in kills (253) and blocks (64, 20 solo). Additionally, she had six assists, seven service aces and 49 digs. Wittenburg posted a league-high 570 digs with 21 service aces and 22 assists.
Senior outside hitter Megan Barron was third on the team with 252 kills while adding 109 digs, 22 blocks (four solo), 12 service aces and five assists. Sophomore setter Mackenzie Harbaugh will fill the role left by the graduation of three-time all-conference player Emily Ryan. Harbaugh ranked second on the team with 72 assists, fourth in digs with 228 and fifth kills with 135. She also added 10 service aces and 18 blocks (one solo).
Coe head coach DeAnn Woodin says, "We are excited to begin one of our most competitive seasons in the IIAC, as well as non-conference play. While there is sure to be some challenges along the way, we feel fortunate to have a strong core group back with solid experience, as well as some dynamic sophomores & freshmen to help us reach the next level. Our opponents in the IIAC have done a great job continuing to recruit and lead highly talented student-athletes, so we are looking forward to the fun match-ups against them each week.
2012 record: 15-20 overall, 4-3 IIAC (fourth)
Starters returning/lost: 6/2
Letterwinners returning/lost: 8/3
Dubuque returns six starters and eight letter winners from last season's 15-20 team that finished fourth in the Conference with a 4-3 league mark. The Spartans will be led by sophomore outside hitter Klaudia Basierak, last year's IIAC Freshman of the Year. She posted a league-high 526 kills and ranked second on the team in digs (411) and service aces (45). Basierak also ranked sixth in the league in service aces. Junior middle hitter Amy Tranel led Dubuque with 78 blocks (17 solo) and ranked third with 232 kills. She ranked 10th in the league in blocks.
Junior setter Meggie Schmidt, who received all-IIAC honorable mention last season, posted team-highs with 1,134 assists, 447 digs and 47 service aces. She added 105 kills and 25 blocks (2 solo). Schmidt ranked fourth in the conference in assists (8.46 per set), fifth in service aces (0.35 per set) and seventh in digs (3.34 per set).
Dubuque head coach April Elsbernd says, "With no returning seniors on the roster, we will be young but will look to our juniors and sophomores with experience to lead the way. Success will be contingent upon how disciplined and focused the team can remain throughout the season. With a large and talented recruiting class, I'm excited for more depth and competition in the gym.
"As all of the programs in the Iowa Conference continue to improve, every night will provide fierce competition and intense matches. With several key players returning for their senior season, Wartburg should be a heavy favorite to repeat as IIAC champions."
2012 record: 17-18 overall, 5-2 IIAC (third)
Starters returning/lost: 4/3
Letterwinners returning/lost: 14/5
Loras returns four starters and 14 letter winners from last season's 17-18 team that finished third in the Conference with a 5-2 mark. Junior outside hitter Kara Grant is the top returning offensive threat. An all-conference pick last year, she recorded 339 kills, 371 digs, 53 blocks (10 solo), 33 service aces and 23 assists and ranked seventh in the conference in kills (2.67 per set).
Junior setter Shawn Rielly will facilitate much of the offense. Last season, she posted 947 assists, 336 digs, 93 kills, 22 service aces, and 23 blocks (1 solo). An all-IIAC honorable mention, Rielly ranked sixth among IIAC players in assists per set at 7.58.
Sophomore libero Christa Winders led the Duhawks last season with 382 digs, ranking fourth in the IIAC, while also dishing out 28 assists.
Loras head coach Jenna Ness says, "I am very excited to get the season underway! With a core group returning and a lot of fresh new faces we are ready to work hard and be competitive in every match."
2012 record: 15-17 overall, 3-4 IIAC (fifth)
Starters returning/lost: 6/2
Letterwinners returning/lost: 11/2
Luther returns six starters and 11 letter winners from last season's 15-17 team that finished fifth in the Conference with a 3-4 mark. The Norse will need to replace their top two offensive threats from a year ago, but have virtually everyone else back. Leading the charge will be senior middle Hannah Wilson, an all-IIAC pick last year. She ranked third on the team last year with 253 kills, 102 blocks (25 solo), 59 digs, 25 service aces and five assists. Wilson also ranked eighth in the conference in hitting percentage (.252). She will be joined on the front line by junior middle hitter/outside hitter Leah Broderick. Broderick played in 56 of 124 sets last year, posting 66 kills, 43 digs, 19 blocks (five solo), three service aces and two assists.
The Norse offense will be facilitated by sophomore setter Lindsey Ryan, who racked up 1,113 assists, a team-high 30 service aces, 205 digs, 25 kills and 72 blocks (14 solo). Ryan ranked third in the league in assists. Senior defensive specialist Jordyn Dudek played in 117 of 124 sets last year, making 230 digs and posting 18 service aces.
Luther head coach Danielle Lynch says, "As always we are excited to compete in the Iowa conference and build on where we finished last season. We return our core group with experience playing against good competition from the past few IIAC seasons, which will help because our non-conference and tournament schedule is extremely tough this year."
2012 record: 12-22 overall, 1-6 IIAC (seventh)
Starters returning/lost: 4 + libero/2
Letterwinners returning/lost: 8/6
Simpson returns four starters plus the libero and eight letter winners from last season's 12-22 overall that tied for seventh place in the league with a 1-6 mark. The Storm will have two of its top three offensive players from 2012 in the fold when the season starts. Sophomore outside hitter Tabitha Blaser, an all-IIAC honorable mention last season, ranked second on the team with 289 kills while also contributing 12 assists, 2 service aces, 78 digs, and 18 total blocks (1 solo). She ranked 10th in the league in hitting percentage (.219). Sophomore middle hitter MacKenzie McGraw ranked third on the team with 259 kills, had 54 digs, 23 service aces, 19 assists and a team-leading 75 blocks (23 solo). She ranked eighth in the IIAC in blocks, averaging 0.61 per set.
Sophomore setter Katie Kieffer, another 2012 all-IIAC honorable mention, posted 1,044 assists to rank fifth-best among IIAC players. She also ranked fourth on the team with 202 digs, had 46 blocks (15 solo), 30 service aces and 74 kills. Senior defensive specialist Kim Rogers played in 118 sets and led the team with 438 digs. She also ranked second on the team with 38 service aces. Rogers ranked fifth in the IIAC in digs (3.71 per set) and eighth in service aces (0.32 per set).
Simpson head coach Lana Smith says, "Simpson is looking forward to another competitive season in the always competitive IIAC. We will be fairly young this season. Our returners will be looking to redeem themselves after a challenging season last year. Our group will have some talent and with some experience will get stronger as the season unfolds. We hope to be ready to challenge and compete each night in the IIAC. The IIAC will have some great talent back this season. I anticipate some awesome matches and matchups. Our conference history indicates that each week will be challenging for all teams as any team can win on any given night. It should be a great season to follow the IIAC."
2012 record: 32-6 overall, 7-0 IIAC (champion)
Starters returning/lost: 5 + libero/1
Letterwinners returning/lost: 9/1
Wartburg returns five starters plus the libero and nine letter winners from last season's 32-6 team that swept through the Iowa Conference with a 7-0 mark, won the Iowa Conference tournament and dropped a five-setter to Wis.-Eau Claire in the first round of the NCAA Volleyball Championship. The Knights, who led the league in hitting percentage (.271), opponent hitting percentage (.124), kills (12.87 per set) and blocks (2.27 per set) and were second in assists (12.33 per set) and kills (13.18 per set), return four all-conference players and will be led by defending Iowa Conference MVP and a 2012 AVCA Second Team All-AmericanRamey Sieck. Sieck, a senior setter, led all Iowa Conference players with 1,269 assists and was fourth in the league with a .264 hitting percentage. She also added 264 kills, 41 service aces, 367 digs and 62 total blocks, ranking second on the team in service aces and digs.
Senior middle hitter Kelly Niemann, a two-time all-IIAC pick, led the team in solo blocks (36) and total blocks (132) and was third in kills (299) while also contributing 16 assists, 9 service aces and 88 digs. She posted the league's top hitting percentage (.335) and topped the league in blocks per set (1.00). Senior libero Marissa Shinstine, a 2012 all-conference pick, ranked third in the IIAC in digs at 4.17 per set, totaling 550 in all. She ranked second on the team with 112 assists and added 23 service aces.
Junior middle hitter Bailey Wilson, who received all-conference honors last season after receiving honorable mention in 2011, ranked second in the IIAC in hitting percentage (.325) and blocks per set (0.92). She ranked fourth on the team with 268 kills and added 96 digs, 40 service aces and 18 assists. Senior outside Maddie Forsyth ranked second on the team and eighth in the IIAC with 327 kills, an average of 2.48 per set. She also added 95 digs, 55 total blocks, 14 assists and 6 service aces.
Wartburg co-head coach Jennifer Walker says, "This year's squad will come in with more experience than any other Wartburg team since 1998. These seniors have been the core of our team since their freshman year and will be looking to make this season the most successful of their careers. Our team knows that they will need to prepare diligently each week as we compete against our IIAC opponents and other nationally-ranked teams throughout the season"