St. Peter, Minn. – With her youngest squad since taking over the reigns of the program in 2010, Head Coach Rachelle Sherden will lead the Gustavus volleyball team into a new season this weekend when the Gusties take part in the 2013 Ground Round Sugar Loaf Classic hosted by Saint Mary’s University. Sherden’s team will face Luther College at 4:00 p.m. and UW-Stout at 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30, and Dominican University at 10:00 a.m. and Lakeland University at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31. The tournament will be held in the Gostomski Fieldhouse in Winona, Minn.
“We had a successful camp,” said Sherden on Thursday when the Gusties broke training camp. “They were challenged and pushed hard this preseason. The growth over two weeks is monumental. Both physically and mentally, on an individual level and as a team, we have seen them make great strides.”
The 2013 Gustavus volleyball roster features a total of 20 players comprised of six juniors, eight sophomores, and six first-year players. All but two players are natives of Minnesota, as sophomore Kelle Nett hails from Spring Valley, Ill. and rookie Taylor Morton comes from Cody, Wyo.
The Gusties return to the court with three of its top four offensive threats from a year ago in Becca Woodstra (So., Minnetonka, Minn.), Kelle Nett, and Emily Gilman (Jr., Maple Grove, Minn.). In her first season in a Gustavus jersey, Woodstra, a middle hitter, registered the second-most kills on the team with 264. She played in all 109 sets, averaged 2.42 kills per set, and finished the year with an attack percentage of .174. Outside hitter Kelle Nett also played in 109 sets, recording 197 kills (1.81 kps) with a .170 attack percentage. The Gusties will look for added offense from right side hitter Emily Gilman who posted 151 kills (1.51 kps) and a .125 attack percentage in 2012.
Leading the Gusitie defense will be Paige Breneman (Jr., Sherburn, Minn.) and Becca Woodstra. Breneman has paced the team in digs as the featured libero the past two seasons. She had a team-best 476 digs for an average of 4.62 digs per set last season and over the past two years has tallied 949 digs for a career average of 4.72 digs per set. Woodstra finished second on the team in digs with 240, while Shelby Nosan (Jr., Baudette, Minn.) finished third with 171.
Setting responsibilities will likely to go Kendra Weege (Jr., Watertown, Minn.) and/or Taylor Meurer (Jr., Nicollet, Minn.). Both players saw action at the position last season with Weege leading the way with 642 set assists and Meurer contributing 302.
The Gusties ended 2012 with an overall record of 10-18 and MIAC mark of 4-7 (t-9th). Gustavus ranked 11th in the league in total kills (1,128) and 12th in team attack percentage (.146). The team had 1,543 digs (11th/MIAC) and averaged 14.56 digs per set (11th/MIAC).
Heading into the team’s first tournament, Sherden wants to see elements of the preseason transfer to competition. “I’d like to see us persevere through the fatigue of preseason and bring out our alter competitive egos on the court. That, and to see our players work together as a unit will be important.”
The Saint Mary’s University Sports Information Department has made a website for fans to easily follow all the action of this weekend’s Ground Round Sugar Loaf Classic. Click on the link below for a complete tournament schedule, live stats, scores, and match summaries.