St. Peter, Minn. - The Gustavus Adolphus volleyball team is set to kick off its 2014 season this weekend when it travels to Winona, Minnesota to take part in the Ground Round Sugar Loaf Classic. The Sugar Loaf Classic, now in its eighth year of existence, will take place on Friday, Aug. 29 and Saturday, Aug. 30 in the Gostomski Fieldhouse located on the campus of Saint Mary’s University.
The Gustavus volleyball team heads into the 2014 season looking for a turnaround after finishing eighth in the conference standings at 4-7 in the MIAC and 11-20 overall last season. Head Coach Rachelle Sherden, who begins her fifth season at the head of the program, returns a squad that features 15 returning letterwinners. The 2014 Gustie roster includes three seniors, seven juniors, five sophomores, and nine first-year players.
Sherden’s attack will once again be built around 2013 All-Conference honoree Alyssa Taylor (Jr., Trimont, Minn.). In her first season on the team, Taylor played in all 31 matches and led the team kills (350), attack opportunities (891), and hitting percentage (.249). Also returning to the front row is Janessa Jahnke (So., Blue Earth, Minn.), Kelly Nett (Jr., Spring Valley, Ill.), and Becca Woodstra (Jr., Minnetonka, Minn.) – all of whom recorded over 100 kills a year ago.
Senior Paige Breneman (Sherburn, Minn.) will lead a defense that brings back a majority of its top back row players from 2013. The Black and Gold benefited from four players who finished last season with 200 or more digs including Breneman with 568, Haley Zweber (So., Rosemount, Minn.) with 272, Woodstra had 212, and Kendra Weege (Sr., Watertown, Minn.) with 206.
Running Gustavus’s offense will be Kendra Weege and Rachel Arnold (Jr., Kimball, MInn.). Weege shelled out 364 set assists last season, while Arnold came on strong at the end with 167 assists over the team’s last four contests.
The Ground Round Sugar Loaf Classic will officially begin for Gustavus on Friday when it takes on Illinois Wesleyan University at 4:00 p.m. and Wartburg College at 8:00 p.m. The Gusties will conclude the weekend on Saturday with a 12:00 p.m. match against the University of Dubuque and a 2:00 p.m. match against North Park University.
This will be the second year in a row that Gustavus begins its season in Winona. Last season at the Ground Round Sugar Loaf Classic, the Gusties went 0-4 with losses to Luther, UW-Stout, Domincan, and Lakeland.
Saint Mary’s has set up a homepage to help fans follow all the action of this weekend’s tournament.