The Gustavus volleyball team is set to open the 2012 season at the UW-Whitewater Tournament held this weekend in Whitewater, Wis. Gustavus will begin play on Friday with a match against Wheaton College at 3:00 p.m. Friday’s second contest will take place at 7:00 p.m. against UW-Oshkosh. On Saturday, the Gusties will face host UW-Whitewater at 10:00 a.m. and Central College at 12:00 p.m. before returning home to St. Peter.
The UW-Whitewater Tournament is one of four invitationals that the Gusties will be participating in this season. Gustavus’ 28-game schedule includes eight home matches and 20 matches on the road.
The black and gold will seek a return trip to the MIAC Playoffs after finishing fifth in the league with an MIAC mark of 7-4 last season. It was the first time Gustavus qualified for MIAC post-season play since 2008, going 20-10 overall to reach the 20-win mark for just the third time in the last 15 seasons.
Head Coach Rachelle Dosch, now in her third season at the head of the Gustie volleyball program, will lead a young but talented group that includes three seniors, five sophomores, and 12 first-year players.
Senior captain Emily Phillips (Cleveland, Minn.) will anchor the front row as the squad’s top returning hitter from a year ago. She ranked second on the team with a total of 301 kills (2.79 k/set) and an attack percentage of .253.
Providing depth on the attack will be sophomores Emily Gilman (Maple Grove, Minn.), who notched 104 kills (1.21 k/set) last season, and Shelby Nosan (Baudette, Minn.), who saw 90 sets as a defensive specialist where she made 252 digs.
In the back row, the Gusties have depth. To go along with senior captains Lisa Beacher (Roseville, Minn.) and Erin Sherman (Golden Valley, Minn.), sophomore Paige Breneman (Sherburn, Minn.) also returns to the lineup after playing in 98 sets as the libero last year. Breneman led the team in digs with a total of 439.
A setter to replace All-Conference performer Malea Noennig is still up in the air, as sophomore Taylor Meurer (Nicollet, Minn.) and first year Rachel Arnold (South Haven, Minn.) bring depth to the position.
With a roster where 18-of-21 players are not past their junior year, fans can expect a variety of lineups through the early stages of the season. Gustavus will compete at the Augsburg College Tournament on Sept. 7-8 before hosting its first home match against St. Thomas on Sept. 12 at 7:00 p.m. on Gus Young Court.